NAPLES, Fla. — State wildlife officials rescued a black bear after its head got stuck in a plastic container.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said wildlife officers believe the bear was trying to eat food from an automatic pet feeder. Luckily, the bear was able to still eat and drink.
"It looks like this bear stuck its head in from the top maybe to get the dog or cat food and had the jar stuck not completely over its head but right in front of its ear around its face," said Mike Orlando, FWC Assistant Bear Program Coordinator.
Neighbors living in Collier County called state wildlife officers after seeing the bear on their home security cameras.
After two sightings, the bear was not seen again for more than 3 weeks until it finally showed up on another security camera. Wildlife officers set up traps in the neighborhood and monitored the area.
The FWC said the bear had the container around its neck for at least 28 days but was still in great physical shape. She had a wound around her neck and face where the feeder was stuck.
"We actually captured the bear. We kept it overnight for evaluation. We had a veterinarian take a look at it. We cleaned it up and gave it some antibiotics and then turned it loose in bear habitat. This bear is going to be just fine out in the wild now," said Orlando.
The bear was released in the Picayune Strand State Forest. The FWC worked with bear biologists, law enforcement, bear contractors and the Collier County Sheriff's Office. Wildlife officers applauded the residents of Golden Gate Estates for helping rescue the bear.
"Some residents in the area, Golden Gate Estates down in Collier County, they actually saw it on some of their security footage they saw the bear wandering by in their yard and alerted us pretty quickly which is great. We really appreciate, obviously, the community help," said Orlando.
State wildlife officials encourage homeowners to secure their garbage or get a wildlife-resistant trash container. Officials also encourage people to bring their pet food inside, clean grills and store them in a secure place and also remove wildlife feeders or make them bear-resistant.
If you suspect someone is feeding or attracting bears, call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).