feud between cops, wildlife officers
Florida deputies shot and killed a young black bear in a Florida residential neighborhood over the weekend, angering some residents and sparking a feud between deputies and wildlife officials.
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department officers shot the animal four times after monitoring its movements for several hours on Saturday, saying they asked for a trapper who never arrived.
The department blamed Florida Wildlife Commission officers for failing to get help after they asked for help and said they wavered on a containment strategy.
« The bear had NO safe place to roam! » the department wrote in a statement after facing a backlash from residents who said the bear was not acting aggressively. « Fearing that the bear was wandering into residential communities and/or impeding traffic on adjacent roads, PBSO had to make the decision to unload its shotguns by striking and killing the bear. »
Deputies arrived in Saratoga Lakes after 8 a.m. Saturday and closed several surrounding streets in a bid to limit the walking creature’s perimeter.
The bear entered the backyard of a house and climbed a tree before descending and continuing its tour.
Deputies followed the animal and it again climbed a large pine tree.
Florida Wildlife Commission officers arrived on the scene and told deputies they had to kill the bear if it fell before they could secure a trapper or safely tranquilize it.
Palm Beach Sheriff’s officials say FWC staff then changed strategy and advised police to let the animal leave the area on its own.
Hours later, and with no trapper in sight, officers shot and killed the bear after it climbed down from the tree.
« We are not bear police, » the agency said. “We don’t know how to handle a bear. It is our responsibility to ensure public safety. »
Florida wildlife officials are investigating the incident and plan to release a report.
Black bears have become an increasingly frequent presence in Florida’s residential neighborhoods with the expansion of development in their habitats.