FWC to set trap to address bears in Gulf Breeze

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GULF BREEZE, Fla. (WKRG) — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has confirmed that a dog was killed by a bear in Gulf Breeze Sunday night.

It will soon set up a trap to help keep bears out of residential neighborhoods.

Bekah Nelson, a spokeswoman for FWC, told News 5 Monday morning FWC officers were “working the call.” She later confirmed that an adult female bear with cubs was in the area of 966 Vestavia Way in Gulf Breeze when it entered a backyard and killed the dog. 

A nearby resident shot in the direction of the bear, but FWC does not believe the bear was seriously injured.

Facebook user Alexandra Hollmig posted to a Gulf Breeze Facebook group Sunday night, saying her dog was killed by a bear in the Villa Venyce neighborhood in Gulf Breeze.

“Big momma bear in Villa Venyce KEEP YOUR DOGS INSIDE it just killed my dog PLEASE KEEP YOUR BABIES SAFE,” the post said.

Several others commented on the post about problems they’ve had with bears in Gulf Breeze. Several new developments in Gulf Breeze have left bears with less natural habitat, causing the bears to creep into residential neighborhoods, according to Gulf Breeze natives. 

Viewers have sent in video of bears walking around in residential neighborhoods going back to at least June.

Gulf Breeze resident Claire Baughn told News 5 a bear acted aggressively toward her dog two weeks ago. 

“In the past when Emma would be barking towards the fence, I assumed the bear would just leave and this time was the first time I ever saw an aggression,” Baughn said. “My main concern is that a dog or a child is going to get hurt. If you see any sign of your dog warning you that there is a bear nearby, please get it back in the house. Don’t let this happen to somebody else.”

The FWC issued the follow statement in regard to the incident: 

“FWC law enforcement responded to the scene and documented the incident. We take this situation seriously and our hearts go out at the loss of a pet. FWC law enforcement will continue to canvas the area. FWC biologists will set a trap in the area to address the situation.”

The agency also issued these tips to keep bears out of your area:

▪ Secure household garbage in a sturdy shed, garage or a bear-resistant container.

▪ Put household garbage out on the morning of pickup rather than the night before.

▪ Secure commercial garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters.

▪ Protect gardens, beehives, compost and livestock with electric fencing.

▪ Encourage your homeowners association or local government to institute bylaws or ordinances to require trash be kept secure from bears.

▪ Feed pets indoors or bring dishes indoors after feeding.

▪ Clean grills and store them in a secure place.

▪ Remove wildlife feeders or make them bear-resistant.

▪ Pick ripe fruit from trees and remove fallen fruit from the ground.

▪ Hang bird feeders at least 10 feet from the ground and 4 feet from any attachment point, like pole or tree.

▪ Using shelled seed and seed mixes without red milo helps reduce waste materials from building up below feeders.

▪ Place a tray below the feeder to catch any spilled seed or only put feeders out during daylight hours

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