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Home > Topics > Fire-EMS
December 03, 2013

Fla. woman seriously injured in bear attack

Various reports stated the woman's injuries were to her face; she was attacked while walking her dogs

Orlando Sentinel

LONGWOOD, Fla. — A bear attacked a Longwood woman Monday night as she walked her dogs, Seminole County Fire Rescue officials said.

She suffered serious injuries in the attack, which happened at about 8:05 p.m. on English Ivy Court, said Fire Rescue Lt. Alisa Keys.

Once the unidentified woman broke free, she ran to a nearby house, where the resident called 911. The victim remained awake and alert but had suffered serious injuries, Keys said.

Keys did not describe the extent of the injuries. Various media reports stated the woman's injuries were to her face. Keys did say the woman's dogs escaped injury.

An ambulance took her to Orlando Regional Medical Center about 20 miles south of wherethe attack took place. Her condition was not immediately available.

The attack happened near Markham Woods Road, south of Heathrow and about a mile east of the Wekiva River Buffer Conservation Area — an area known for frequent bearsightings.

Seminole County deputies were still at the scene of the attack late Monday night.

Using flashlights, they and officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission searched the area where the bear attacked the woman.

"We've got a little blood trail here," an FWC officer said.

It's possible that wildlife officials will try to trap the bear responsible for the attack. Late Monday night, an FWC pickup arrived at the house near where the attack took place. It was towing a trailer that appeared to be a large metal cage on wheels. The trailer was unhitched from the truck and left at the site. However, there was no official word about whether or not a trap would be used.

In the past five years, bear complaints more than doubled statewide to 6,189 in 2012, according to a recent analysis of a state wildlife database. Two of every five calls came from Lake, Volusia, Seminole, Orange or Osceola counties.

Still, despite thousands of nuisance calls, wildlife officers move only a dozen bears a year from Central Florida neighborhoods, usually to Ocala National Forest, and euthanize about a dozen more.

Experts say that relocation fails about half the time as the bears follow their noses and sometimes find their way back. And, often, other bears take their place.

The black bear, Florida's largest native land mammal, was removed from the state's threatened-species list last year. Yet it remains protected in Florida, where it is illegal to purposely injure or kill one. Feeding them also is illegal.

It's been more than a decade since the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission offered a scientific estimate on the number of bears roaming the state. The current estimate of 3,000 is considered low by state wildlife biologists who cite the sudden increase in nuisance complaints, including those reported by residents of long-established neighborhoods in Central Florida.

The state plans to begin a new population study this spring.

In June, a 150-pound black bear even wandered into the outskirts of an urban Orlando neighborhood. The animal was spotted across the street from an entrance ramp to the East-West Expressway just steps from the Holden-Parramore community.

As news of the bear sighting spread, people started converging on a gas station a few feet from the tree where the bear rested. More than 50 people showed up, many holding cellphones and cameras to capture the rare visit.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission agent eventually shot the male bear with a tranquilizer gun. It dropped out of the tree 10 minutes later and stayed out cold as the agent examined it and onlookers oohed and ahhed and posed for photos with it.

At the time, FWC experts said the bear probably lumbered 15 miles from woods in Longwood, where the animals are abundant, after being forced out by an older male during mating season. Male black bears typically have a home range of 60 square miles, officials said.

Copyright 2013 Orlando Sentinel

McClatchy-Tribune News Service


All Rights Reserved

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