FWC investigates possible illegal feeding; 7th bear killed in Lake Mary



LAKE MARY, Fla. - Wildlife officers have put down a seventh bear in the Lake Mary neighborhood where a woman was attacked and they said the situation is unlike anything the've ever dealt with before.  

"There's an unsual amount of activity in a small area," Florida Fish and Wildlife spokesman Greg Workman said.

Officials said officers were forced to kill a seventh bear in the Carisbrooke neighborhood Tuesday evening.

"It had no fear of humans, was very food conditioned and it was a very dangerous bear," Workman said. "We can't just turn our backs and walk away from this."

FWC officials said they believe someone in the neighborhood may be illegally feeding the bears and a reward for information was announced Tuesday.

"This is unusual circumstances," said Workman. "We want to cover all our bases and if that is happening, we want to know about it."

The attack on 45-year-old Terri Frana happened last weekend in the front yard of her home. Since then, seven bears have been shot or euthanized. Officials said that number represents an unusual and alarming number of bears to be habituated in the area.

Not all residents are happy with FWC killing the bears. Jan Hall said she's seen plenty of bears in her yard and she thinks the FWC could have kept the bears alive until they knew what animal was involved in the attack.

"This incident that happened should not have happened. It's people error," said Hall.

"People are starting to get upset over this, seven bears!" one resident yelled to the FWC officers.

Workman said the bears had been conditioned to find food in the area and the comfort level of the animals is so alarming that killing them wasn’t an option.

"They're still dangerous bears," said Workman. "Because they have been habituated, they've been conditioned. They are dangerous."

Frana said some neighbors have become so comfortable around the bears, they've even given them nicknames.

"These are wild animals and we need to respect them. Unfortunately, we have five new developments going up within five miles. They just have no place to go," Frana said.

Wildlife officials have three traps set up and will leave officers in the area until they feel the danger is over. FWC said they have no idea whether any of the bears they've killed had anything to do with the attack on Frana.

"Regardless if these bears were responsible or not, they are still dangerous bears because they have been habituated. If we take this bear and we hold it or we take this bear and relocate it, we've taken a dangerous bear and put it in another area," said Workman.

Investigators said trash continues to be a problem in bear-prone areas, something Hall isn’t happy about.

"Keep (trash cans) shut. Get containers that are bear-proof," Hall said.

FWC partnered with Seminole County for a grant to help launch the bear-proof garbage program this summer, but it's not enough to cover the costs of the cans for residents.