Florida wildlife officials: Illegal feeding may be luring bears to area where woman was attacked

Florida wildlife official warns that people who feed bears could be killing them by habituating them to people.
By Frances Burns  |  April 16, 2014 at 4:58 PM
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ORLANDO, Fla., April 16 (UPI) -- Seven bears that appeared conditioned to people and the food they provide have been killed in the area where a woman was attacked, Florida wildlife officials say.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Tuesday that a reward is being offered for information on anyone feeding bears in the Lake Mary area in central Florida. The seventh bear was killed Tuesday.

"There's an unsual amount of activity in a small area," Greg Workman, a spokesman for the commission, said.

Terri Frana, who lives in a gated community near Lake Mary in Seminole County north of Orlando, was knocked down and mauled Saturday night after she spotted five bears digging through garbage in her garage.

Workman said all the bears killed since the attack showed no fear of humans.

In a statement, Dave Telesco, head of the commission's bear program, said Florida residents should make garbage inaccessible to bears, avoid leaving birdseed and other edibles out overnight and, most importantly, should never deliberately feed bears.

“Once adult bears become dependent on human-provided food, there is nothing we can do to unlearn that behavior,” he said. “By feeding bears, people are not helping them. They may be signing their death sentence.”

Telesco also defended the policy of putting problem bears down instead of moving them: “Unfortunately there is nowhere in Florida we can take them where we are confident that they won’t come into contact with people.”

[WFTV.com] [Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]

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