Residents in a gated community near Naples, Florida, were treated to more than just a backyard barbecue on Father’s Day, with several witnesses spotting a black bear casually strolling through their yards and sniffing around.
Bystander videos made the rounds on social media throughout Sunday and Monday, with footage showing the animal going from lawn to lawn. At one point the bear is seen waltzing near a resident’s garage and breezing past the cars before making its way to the front lawn. Local Florida television stations ran footage of the incident Monday night.
One onlooker, poking fun at the community being gated and exclusive, quipped on his footage, “Do you know what address you’re going to? Do you have a guest pass?” Another witness could be heard yelling, “hey buddy!”
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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission warned Florida community members of making precautious steps in case of a potentially dangerous encounter with a bear, namely related to keeping garbage cans bare. According to the Miami Herald, Florida black bears’ habitats have been reduced due to overdevelopment and prompted a wide-array of recent sightings.
No one was threatened by the bear on Sunday, but the size of the animal startled residents. Resident Vanessa Walker told WINK News in Fort Myers of the bear: “We were just pulling in from church from First Naples, and all of a sudden, I just look and this huge bear is coming out from between two houses. It was humongous. I immediately knew it was a bear, and it was not stopping.”
Elvis Gooden Sr., general manager of the local golf facility, The Club at the Strand, told Fox 13 News in Naples: “that size bear I would expect to see at the zoo, not roaming our community, especially during the daytime.”
Ross McGee, who works at the golf club, also spotted the bear and took video, posting it to Facebook. McGee said he saw the bear climb a fence then cross a street before going up a driveway. He stayed in his golf cart while he shot the video.
Bears have been seen in the area before, according to the club’s post on Facebook, but this one appears to be one of the biggest that has come around.
According to National Geographic, the American black bear is a medium-sized bear that’s North America’s smallest and most common. Male bears can grow up to 5½ feet tall and 600 pounds on average.