SEBRING, Fla. - A mama bear and two cubs were seen playing in the front yard of a Sebring neighborhood on Wednesday. Stacy Ann Shoop captured video of the trio from her son’s bedroom window around 10 a.m. in the Harder Hall subdivision.
The video shows a mama black bear in her front yard and a cub climbing down from a tree. The mama bear is seen going over to the cub and giving it a nudge before the cub runs back up the tree and eventually comes down with another bear cub.
Shoop said her husband spotted the mama bear around 7:30 a.m. as he left for work. Their garbage can had been knocked over and when he went to pick it up he heard what he thought was squirrels running up the tree, but when he looked over, he saw the mama bear climbing down the tree.
He called Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman, who called Animal Control.
Shoop said her husband told her about the bear sighting and she kept their garage door closed and their dog inside to be on the safe side.
She did open all of the curtains in the house to see if she could catch a glimpse of the bear. She was surprised to see the not only the mama bear, but he two bear cubs in her front yard. She thinks the mama left the cubs in the tree in the morning and went back to get them.
Shoop said there have been bear sightings in the neighborhood recently. Her neighbors also called Animal Control about the bears, but Shoop does not know where they wandered off to when they left her front yard.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and local partner law enforcement agencies said they have also begun receiving reports of a mother bear and two cubs in the area of the Harder Hall subdivision in Sebring, Highlands County, in addition to bear sightings in both Avon Park and Lake Placid. Officials said that while it is not possible to know for sure, they do not believe that these sightings are of the same bear(s).
According to the FWC, bears are present in Highlands County and during this time of the year, sightings are not uncommon, as juvenile bears are leaving the family unit and looking to establish an area of their own. June is the start of bear breeding season and bears may travel more widely in search of a mate. Also, mother bears can be seen moving around with her cubs in search of food. If potential attractants such as garbage, pet food and birdseed are secured, bears should not linger.
In addition to securing attractants, the FWC urges the public not to approach a bear if they see one, and to keep a safe distance. If you do encounter a bear at close range, do not run. Remain standing upright, speak to the bear in a calm, assertive voice, and back up slowly while leaving the bear with a clear escape route.
Report human-bear conflicts to the FWC’s Southwest Regional Office at (863) 648-3200.
For more information about the Florida black bear, please visit MyFWC.com/Bear.