The Sanibel black bear had to be tranquilized a second time after it was relocated on June 21 to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge just north of Tampa.
The 270-pound black bear, identified by his orange ear tag, was spotted by a University of South Florida student
on July 3 as it wandered the campus. A short time later the 2-year-old bear was found in a tree just outside the entrance to Busch Gardens, where he was tranquilized by wildlife officials.
He has again been relocated to Apalachicola National Forest, the largest U.S. national forest in Florida and the
only one in the panhandle. The adventurous male bear found its way to Sanibel Island a year ago by most likely swimming from the mainland via Pine Island. He was tranquilized and relocated after exhibiting nuisance behavior.
"Although there was plenty of fruits
and grubs to eat, the bear was captured
and relocated because he changed his
behavior and became more visible during
the daylight hours and began frequenting
more populated areas of the island," said
"Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Manager Paul Tritaik. "The bear didn't
threaten anyone, but the potential for bearhuman
conflicts increased as the bear
encountered more people and was seen
traveling along roadways more often."
Since the black bear was relocated
from his island home, he was spotted at
Spring Hill in Hernando County and Land
O' Lakes in Pasco County before his
recent trip to Busch Gardens and USF,
nearly 50 miles from Chassahowitzka.
"The bear was a young male and was
likely approaching breeding age," said
Tritaik. "With no females available (on
Sanibel), he would have searched in vain.
Now, he is in an area where he will have
the opportunity to find female bears."
While the Florida black bear is not listed
under the federal Endangered Species
Act, it is currently listed by the state as
"threatened." However, the Florida black
bear may soon be taken off the state list
pending approval of the Black Bear
Management Plan by the Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission.