The Florida Black Bear that has been spotted on Sanibel since last year was successfully tranquilized on June 21 by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation. During the previous 10 days, the bear began demonstrating nuisance behavior, including frequenting residential neighborhoods.
A 9-1-1 call was placed at approximately 10 p.m. June 20 after a vehicle nearly collided with the bear along East Periwinkle Way.
"Our community was extremely helpful in detecting the bear's patterns with their prompt phone calls to the Sanibel Police Department, reporting the whereabouts of the bear," said Sanibel City Manager Judith Zimomra. "Additionally, through their knowledge of our island and habitat, our city employees were particularly useful partners to the FWC during this endeavor."
The male bear was first sighted on the island by a remote wildlife camera at J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge's Bailey Tract. He appeared to be just over a year old, weighing 40 to 60 pounds. At the time of its capture, the bear was estimated to weigh between 200 and 250 pounds.
"Through our vision statement, the City of Sanibel places the highest priority on protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat," said Zimomra.
The City of Sanibel Natural Resources Department, Sanibel Police Department, Public Works Department and the refuge worked in conjunction with the FWC to safely relocate the bear off-island.
"In the case of this black bear, over the past two weeks, it became very clear his opportunity to live a long happy life would be best off-island where he can find a mate and live the remainder of his years happily and safely in a more natural, non-residential bear habitat," said Zimomra.
While black bears are native to Florida, they are protected under state and federal laws. Dwindling populations in the state have caused this sub species to be listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to approach or harass this animal.