A Collier County black bear is in good health after she was freed from a plastic container that had been stuck on her head for nearly a month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.
The 250-pound female was first spotted on private residential footage Oct. 14 with a plastic container around her head, Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Lisa Thompson said. The agency was notified Oct. 16, and Fish and Wildlife biologists, bear contractors and law enforcement officials set up traps on the property.
However, after two sightings, the adult bear disappeared for three weeks, according to an agency Facebook post. She was later spotted again on a residential camera — still trapped in the plastic container. The wildlife commission set up new traps to capture her and patrolled the neighborhood at night.
On Nov. 10, just before midnight, the bear was spotted. A biologist tranquilized her with a dart and removed the plastic container from the bear’s face. The wildlife commission said employees believe the plastic container may have been an automatic pet feeder, based on a hole at the bottom of the container.
The bear was treated with antibiotics for wounds around her neck and mouth, but she was otherwise in good condition, according to an agency Facebook post.
“What’s amazing about bears is they’re very tough,” Fish and Wildlife assistant bear program coordinator Mike Orlando told the Tampa Bay Times. “I mean, these animals are extremely tough and resilient.”
Despite being trapped in the plastic container for nearly a month, the bear had not lost any weight, he said.
After about 1½ days of observation to make sure she was in good health, the bear was released in Picayune Strand State Forest, according to the wildlife commission’s social media posts.
Orlando encouraged the public to secure trash, bird feeders and pet feeders in order to avoid similar incidents.
“Keep any attractants away from bears and generally, you know, it works out,” he said.
More information about bear safety can be found on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.