Black bear in search of mate


Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 10:05 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 11:31 p.m.

The black bear that has been spotted on the east side of Gainesville over the past week apparently was headed for a date with a female bear who has been living farther north.

Biologists and other specialists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said they spotted the pair north of Newnan's Lake late Tuesday evening and hit both of them with bean bags.



"So they both went running to the north, which is what we wanted them to do," FWC spokeswoman Karen Parker said.

FWC officials say they suspect the male might have been living on Paynes Prairie before he began seeking a mate, a typical behavior during the early summer, officials said. Parker said the female likely was living in the Hatchet Creek area or possibly in the Austin Cary Memorial Forest.

After the June-July breeding season, officials said the male might return to Paynes Prairie, or he could remain north near the female and stake out a territory for himself.

Whether the couple produce any cubs will take months to determine.

The approximately 400- to 500-pound male bear was first spotted in a southeast Gainesville neighborhood last week and then was again seen dragging garbage bags out of a garbage can in a northeast neighborhood on Tuesday.

Alachua County Sheriff's Deputy Carlos McWatters said the bear was spotted outside a home in the 7000 block of Northeast 19th Avenue. According to McWatters' report, the bear did not seem to be afraid of the deputy's patrol car, but when McWatters stepped out of his car, the bear ambled into a nearby woods.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission dispatched some of its wildlife specialists, who waited in the area for a few hours.

Bear sightings began about a week ago as the animal foraged for food near homes south of Hawthorne Road near Southeast 29th Boulevard.

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