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Sanibel black bear relocated once again

By Staff | Jul 13, 2012

The Sanibel black bear had to be tranquilized a second time after it was relocated on June 21 to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge just north of Tampa.

The 270-pound black bear, identified by his orange ear tag, was spotted by a University of South Florida student

on July 3 as it wandered the campus. A short time later the 2-year-old bear was found in a tree just outside the entrance to Busch Gardens, where he was tranquilized by wildlife officials.

He has again been relocated to Apalachicola National Forest, the largest U.S. national forest in Florida and the

only one in the panhandle. The adventurous male bear found its way to Sanibel Island a year ago by most likely swimming from the mainland via Pine Island. He was tranquilized and relocated after exhibiting nuisance behavior.

“Although there was plenty of fruits

and grubs to eat, the bear was captured

and relocated because he changed his

behavior and became more visible during

the daylight hours and began frequenting

more populated areas of the island,” said

“Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Manager Paul Tritaik. “The bear didn’t

threaten anyone, but the potential for bearhuman

conflicts increased as the bear

encountered more people and was seen

traveling along roadways more often.”

Since the black bear was relocated

from his island home, he was spotted at

Spring Hill in Hernando County and Land

O’ Lakes in Pasco County before his

recent trip to Busch Gardens and USF,

nearly 50 miles from Chassahowitzka.

“The bear was a young male and was

likely approaching breeding age,” said

Tritaik. “With no females available (on

Sanibel), he would have searched in vain.

Now, he is in an area where he will have

the opportunity to find female bears.”

While the Florida black bear is not listed

under the federal Endangered Species

Act, it is currently listed by the state as

“threatened.” However, the Florida black

bear may soon be taken off the state list

pending approval of the Black Bear

Management Plan by the Florida Fish and

Wildlife Conservation Commission.