NAPLES, Fla. — A bear spotted in a residential area of Naples has authorities and residents on high alert.
Naples Police and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are still working to capture the animal, with a trap set up on First Avenue North.
“A first time in Old Naples," says Jack Ryan, a Naples resident. "I mean you hear about bears, I think, outside of Old Naples but first time here.”
They say there’s a first time for everything. But for Fred Bachmann, that first encounter was nothing short of surprising.
“I happened to be outside and a deputy pulled up," Bachmann says. "He said to me, ‘Hey, be careful. There’s a bear on the loose.’ And I was like, ‘Wow, a bear in this area?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah!’”
And in just mere seconds, suspicion quickly became adrenaline.
“I heard some rustling in the bushes across the street and this bear came out and ran across the road and down towards the beach.”
That’s when Bachmann pulled out his phone and snapped photos, capturing a black bear running across Gulf Shore Boulevard. Bachmann is the owner of Gigi Clean- a house cleaning service. He’s used to working for clients in this area, just not used to its more recent resident.
“This is a desirable area, a lot of people are relocating to this area so there’s a lot of development going on," Bachmann said. "Unfortunately, the wildlife suffers from that. Their habitats get more and more consolidated and they venture out looking for a new place to live. Today, it was Old Naples.”
“He’s 20- about 30 yards back,” says Ryan, as he pears toward the side of his home.
In a matter of hours, authorities spotted the bear in between homes off First Avenue North closing the street to thru traffic. Ryan is one of the lucky homeowners to have a new tenant.
“He must be exhausted because I think he came from further south and there was a nice, damp place to lie," said Ryan. "He’s protected a little bit by a retaining wall and some palm trees and podocarpus plants. I think he just likes it in there.”
Those with the FWC have set up a trap to try luring the bear. Once captured, they will relocate Naples' most eligible furball to a more sophisticated and natural habitat.
“I’m hoping for a happy ending," says Ryan. "Big piece of salmon steak dinner for him. They can take him back to the wild, I don’t think he belongs in here.”
Said Bachmann, “It was an exciting Friday! That’s all.”
Authorities are reminding the public not to approach the bear. If you happen to stumble across the bear, you are asked to contact FWC at (863) 648-3200 or Naples Police at (239) 213-4844.