Today, at approximately 1p.m., the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) successfully tranquilized the Florida black bear that was first detected on Sanibel Island last June. Over the past 10 days, the black bear began to demonstrate nuisance behavior. The City of Sanibel Natural Resources Department, Sanibel Police Department, Public Works Department and the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, worked in conjunction with FWC to safely relocate the bear off-island. FWC officials estimate the male bear to be 3.5 years old and between 200 and 250 pounds.
Last evening, at approximately 10:12 p.m., the City of Sanibel received a 9-1-1 call when the bear was nearly hit by a vehicle on East Periwinkle Way. The first confirmed sighting of the black bear on Sanibel was June 27, 2011, when a remote wildlife camera at J.N 'Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge captured an image of a sub adult Florida black bear, approximately 1.5 years old, weighing 40-60 pounds. The bear was photographed by a motion activated, infrared camera at the Bailey Tract. Since 2011, there have been numerous confirmed sightings of the black bear on Sanibel.
In making this announcement, Sanibel City Manager Judith Zimomra stated, "Through our Vision Statement, the City of Sanibel places the highest priority on protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat. In the case of this black bear, over the past two weeks, it became very clear his opportunity to live a long happy life would be best off-island where he can find a mate and live the remainder of his years happily and safely in a more natural, non-residential bear habitat." Zimomra further stated, "Over the last several days as the bear began to frequent neighborhoods, including porches, our community was extremely helpful in detecting the bear's patterns with their prompt phone calls to the Sanibel Police Department, reporting the whereabouts of the bear. Additionally, through their knowledge of our island and habitat, our City employees were particularly useful partners to the FWC during this endeavor."
Black bears are native to Florida and are protected under state and federal laws. Dwindling populations in Florida has caused this sub species to be listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to approach or harass this animal.