CARROLLWOOD — If you think you spotted a wild bear in Carrollwood this week, you’re not alone.
There were two reported bear sightings in the area this week, according to Florida Wildlife Commission Spokesman Bryce Phillippi.
Phillippi said that the first report came at around 4 a.m. Tuesday near the Citrus Park Mall. The second sighting was reported to authorities at the same time Wednesday morning in the Carrollwood Meadows neighborhood. The sightings are about two miles away from each other.
Neither sighting has been confirmed by wildlife officials, Phillippi said.
It’s also unclear what kind of bear was spotted. Local Facebook posts suggest it was a black bear.
How rare is a wandering bear in a Florida city? Not as uncommon as you’d think.
In June, a black bear was seen wandering in downtown Naples and has eluded wildlife officials there. Philippe Park in Safety Harbor was briefly closed last week after a black bear was spotted on security video.
Wildlife officials did not say whether the unconfirmed bear sightings in Carrollwood could be tied to the Safety Harbor bear.
Here’s how to behave in case you encounter a black bear, according to FWC officials:
Don’t move toward the bear. If the bear is close, remain standing, speak calmly and assertively to the bear and slowly back away, leaving an escape route for the animal. Avoid eye contact. If the bear appears irritated by your movement, stop and stay firmly in one place. Don’t make any sudden movements, and don’t play dead, run, climb a tree, surprise, approach or try to feed the bear. Bears are shy and will usually avoid people.
To report a bear sighting, call the FWC’s Southwest Regional Office at (863) 648-3200.