Bear on the move in Gainesville


Peter and Cindy Alcorn saw a Florida black bear at their swimming pool in the Kirkwood neighborhood in Gainesville Thursday morning. (Photo courtesy of Peter Alcorn)

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 11:23 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 11:23 a.m.

Perhaps looking for a little ursine love in all the wrong places, a bear has been spotted several times recently in a neighborhood off South Main Street.

It was seen again Thursday morning.

Peter Alcorn said he and his wife, Cindy, saw the Florida black bear at their swimming pool in the Kirkwood neighborhood between South Main and Southwest 13th streets.

"We woke up this morning and my wife said, 'Oh my God, there's a bear in our backyard.' It walked right up to our pool," Alcorn said. "It walked into our carport and had obviously been in our bird seed overnight.

"I've never seen one in the wild, so to see one in my backyard was pretty surprising," Alcorn said.

The Gainesville Police Department tweeted about a bear sighting Thursday morning.

"Our friend Yogi has eluded capture again today," the tweet says. "If you see him, please call FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922."

Brad Stanley, public information officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said four sightings of a bear have been reported over the last three days -- all within two miles of each other in south Gainesville.

Bears are typically on the move in the spring -- particularly young males who are being pushed out of territory by older males or are looking for a mate.

Roaming bears in the springtime are not uncommon in south Gainesville because of its proximity to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and other conservation land.

"They can start mating at about a year and a half, but big bears are usually going to run the little guys off," Stanley said.

"Paynes Prairie is a great habitat for them. It's got everything they need from water to dense cover to plenty to eat. It seems like every bear sighting we've gotten over the last few years has typically been around Paynes Prairie."

Stanley said the bear seen by the Alcorns is likely the same creature in the other reports, including one report of a bear in trash containers at a Southwest 13th Street motel.

Alcorn said the bear wandered through the backyard and off to a neighbor's house. It had gotten into a metal container of bird seed but otherwise caused no damage.

Stanley said anyone who spots a bear should stay away from it and let it leave on its own. People can also make noise, such as banging pots and pans, to try to scare it away.

Also, Stanley said, people who have seen a bear near their home should not leave any food outside, even pet food, and should try to secure garbage in a garage or shed until collection day.

The commission has lots of information about bears on its website at http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/bear/.

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