Dead bear investigation underway in Seminole County, FWC says

Dead bear investigation underway in Seminole County, FWC says

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating reports of a dead bear found in Seminole County.

The bear was reported dead around 9 a.m. near Moton Avenue and McKay Street at Bookertown Park in Sanford.

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Deputies with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office told Eyewitness News that the bear was shot. However FWC officials only said it’s a dead bear.

FWC officials said the bear is a female juvenile, roughly 6 - 7 years old.

A neighbor told Channel 9's Sarahbeth Ackerman that they heard at least three shots early Wednesday morning.

"I was sleeping, and I did hear the shots," said Clarence Troutman. "That is so sad. I think they're beautiful. I think the bears are beautiful."

Officials said they're looking into the possibility that the bear was dragged to the park from another location. Investigators found another crime scene at the end of Moton Avenue near Troutman's home.

A biologist will determine the bear's cause of death.

"We're asking people if they do see bears in the area to call our dispatch, not take matters into their hands. Allow us to take care of it for them," said Chad Weber with FWC.

Neighbors told Eyewitness News that it's common to see bears in the area.

"There are a lot of bears. Everybody in the neighborhood complains that the trash is out, got to clean up behind the buildings. But bears ain't got people sense if you understand what I'm saying. They (are) hungry, They're going to eat," said Troutman.

Officials said they've launched a criminal investigation. It is a misdemeanor to kill a black bear.  A first offense could lead to a $500 fine and up to two months in jail.

"If we find out who did it, we will follow through with our investigation and allow the state attorney to make that decision," said Weber.

This is a developing story. Check back on wftv.com for updates.