Vacationing Bear

Friday, August 5, 2011 - 8:58am

Trappers work to catch first bear ever spotted on Florida's Sanibel Island.

Sanibel Island's unwelcome visitor is wearing out its welcome.

The Florida resort island's first documented black bear has been on the island more than a month.

This week, the bear got into some mischief - costing one business thousands of dollars.

Authorities have documented 15 sightings of the black bear.

"All of our reports in the last month have really been along roadways," said Tara Wertz, Wildlife Biologist for J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. "It was quite a shock when we first realized we had a bear on the island."

Last week the bear made its presence felt by finding its way to bee hives.

It ate $20,000 worth of bees, larva and honey according to the bee farmer.

"Bees and insects are really what the bear is after. The honey's just the icing on the cake," said Wertz.

"It's just a bear doing what bears do," said Sanibel resident Rick Ranieri.

Wildlife officials say they believe the bear could have walked there during low tide, from either Pine Island or Cape Coral.

They had hoped it would find its way back on its own accord.

Now that the bear has become a nuisance Florida Fish and Wildlife and the Ding Darling Refuge have set up a bear trap in hopes of sending him home.

"Relocate him to a wildlife area, a big forest or something, which may be better for the bear. He'll be with his buddies and stuff," said Ranieri.

Biologists believe the bear is living alone, going after any food sources it can.

"Bears are very smart. But, they're also very opportunistic. So, if they find an easy food source, that's what they're going to go find," said Wertz.

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