*photo provided is a “stock” bear photo—not of the actual bear seen in Poinciana.
On Sunday, October 7, 2012, Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to several locations in the Poinciana area after receiving two calls of black bear sightings.
The area of the sightings included Redwing Court, Starling Court, Spoonbill Court, and Sheldrake Road (southwestern part of Poinciana—wilderness areas exist to the north, west, and south) and occurred during the evening and pre-dawn hours.
The bear (or bears) was described as being approximately 250 pounds and was seen rummaging through garbage cans. It is unknown if there was only one bear or several bears. One of the residents had noticed that his trash can had been turned over and opened occasionally within the previous two weeks. This was his first bear sighting since living in the area for eight years.
During the investigation, deputies conducted more patrols on the 7th and 8th and encountered a single bear and used air horns and sirens to drive off the animal. Deputies and residents reported the bear was not aggressive and ran off when encountered. Ultimately, the Florida Wildlife Commission was contacted and advised of the encounters.
Deputies have increased patrol in the areas especially near school bus stops as a precaution.
Residents are reminded wildlife are attracted to food sources and it is important to ensure garbage cans containing kitchen waste are secured indoors until the waste can be properly disposed.
The FWC provides additional tips about bear encounters online at http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/bear/encounter/.
If you have observed a bear or bears in your neighborhood, please contact the FWC Southwest Region Office at 863-648-3200, or call the Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).