Florida lawmakers shot and killed a young black bear in a Florida neighborhood over the weekend – angering some residents and sparking a feud between lawmakers and wildlife officials.
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department officers shot the animal four times after checking its movements for several hours on Saturday, claiming it required a trapper that never arrived.
The department has accused responding agents of Florida Wildlife Commission of failing to secure assistance after they applied for assistance and said they were waffling over a containment strategy.
“The bear had NO place to roam safely!” the department wrote in a statement after they were confronted with a setback by residents who said the bear was not acting aggressively. “Fear that the bear would roam the residential communities and / or obstruct the flow of traffic on adjacent roads, PBSO was confronted with the decision to release its guns that hit and kill the bear.”
Deputies arrived at Saratoga Lakes after 8 a.m. Saturday and closed several surrounding streets in an effort to limit the perimeter of creature walking.
The bear entered the backyard of a house and climbed a tree before descending and continuing its journey.
Deputies followed the animal and it climbed back onto a large pine tree.
Florida Wildlife Commission agents arrived on the scene and told deputies they should kill the bear if it came down before they could secure a trapper or calm it down safely.
Palm Beach Sheriff’s officials claim that FWC staff later changed their strategy and advised the police to leave the animal on its own.
Hours later, and without a trapper in sight, officers shot the bear after it landed at the tree.
“We are not the bear police,” the bureau said. “We do not know how to deal with a bear. It is our responsibility to keep the public safe.”
Wildlife officials in Florida are investigating the incident and plan to release a report.
Black bears have become an increasingly common presence in Florida neighborhoods with the expansion of development in their habitats.