DNA test confirms wrong bears killed after Longwood woman attacked



LONGWOOD, Fla. - Florida Fish and Wildlife officers said tests confirm they have finally captured the bear responsible for attacking a Seminole County woman.

But the news comes after officers recently killed two other bears they captured close to where the attack happened, a move that outraged the community.

Many central Florida residents voiced their outrage on social media over the controversial move to the kill the bears when there was no proof they were involved in the attack.

"As long as you don't bother them, they are not going to bother you," said Seminole County resident JR Thorn.

Thorn works across the street from Wekiva Springs State Park and said he sees bears all the time and was disgusted when FWC killed the wrong bears.

"They said they were going to test to make sure it was the right bear and they didn't do it," he said. "They lied to the public."

The bear responsible for the attack was the mother of two cubs. Officers said they picked the three in the area a week after Susan Chalfant was attacked as she walked her dogs in a Longwood neighborhood on Dec. 2.

WFTV asked officers about a week ago why those other bears were euthanized before they got the test results back.

"Well, the bear fit the description of the area where the incident happened," said FWC Officer Lenny Salberg.

Until the spring, the three captured bears will be living at Busch Gardens. Then, the cubs will be released into the wild and the mother will be taken to another facility.

In the meantime, one woman upset with the killing of the bears took to the web to launch a Change.org petition that has more than 2,000 signatures.

Last year, wildlife officials were told about more than 700 bear sightings in Seminole County.

On Wednesday, one of FWC's directors told Channel 9 the animals are getting more comfortable with humans, something Seminole County resident Stan German backs.

"People are being threatened. Animals are being threatened," said German.

Other neighbors told Channel 9 they agree that bears that make it into the neighborhood need to be moved or even killed.