Black bear spotted in Bradenton

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BRADENTON-- A homeowner in East Bradenton got quite a surprise early Thursday morning when a black bear was spotted on her property.

The woman, who wants to remain anonymous, and does not want her address published for the bear's own safety, was woken up by her dog barking around 4am. She picked up her camera and snapped two photos of the bear pacing near the entrance to her house. The woman lives near the Panther Ridge Subdivision.

Seeing a Black Bear on the Suncoast is quite rare, says Damen Hurd, an animal expert with Wildlife Incorporated. The homeowner called Hurd later that day.

"Their numbers had been dropping dramatically. It's estimated that 100 are killed a year by cars hitting them. But with conservation efforts, the numbers are booming now. As the numbers grow, they need to move outward to new places," said Hurd.

Living near where the bear was sighted is Derrick Ross. Ross is ecstatic a bear is nearby, and why wouldn't he be? The man trains bears for movies and shows. He holds several on his property, and no, he's not missing one.

"It does make me pretty happy to hear there are wild bears in this area again. There used to be, but that was like 50-60 years ago," said Ross.

Florida Black Bears are mainly found in the central and northern part of the state. Most of the bears are quite timid, and don't pose a huge threat to humans, Ross said. To avoid a bear coming on your property, make sure your yard is maintained and your garbage cans have lids on them.

Hurd will discuss the idea of relocating the animal with FWC officials and the homeowner this week.