Residents of a gated community in Cutler Bay were startled to see a 200-pound black bear sitting in a tree Friday morning.
Residents in Chanterelle, a neighborhood in southeastern Cutler Bay, called the police to report the wild animal around 10:30 a.m. Friday, according to Cutler Bay Town Manager Ralph Casals.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission dispatched bear biologists and law enforcement to the area, where they set up a perimeter around the tree to keep residents at a safe distance. Wildlife officials shot the bear with a tranquilizer gun around 2 p.m., Casals said.
The bear was safely removed from the tree and transported to a facility next to Zoo Miami, where it is being evaluated by veterinarians to determine whether it can be released back into the wild.
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Cutler Bay Mayor Peggy Bell, who has lived in the area for 32 years, said she has never seen a black bear in the town before. Bears are relatively rare in South Florida; their main habitat is Big Cypress National Preserve, about 45 miles west of Miami. Statewide, the bear population has increased, resulting in the Fish and Wildlife Commission establishing limited bear hunts in 2015 after a 20-year ban.
“I have to tell you I’ve seen many wild animals including alligators, otters, and even a wild boar on the turnpike, but this is our first bear sighting and capture,” she said.
The bear was initially spotted on Thursday, but police and wildlife officials were unable to locate the animal until Chanterelle residents saw it again Friday in a tree.