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Questions arise after deputies shoot, kill black bear in Palm Beach County

FWC leaders say they didn't tell the sheriff's office to shoot the bear.
Credit: JT Fisherman - stock.adobe.com

ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. — Editor's note: The image used above is a stock photo.

A bear was shot and killed Saturday after causing a stir in a Royal Palm Beach neighborhood, CBS 12 reports.

The black bear reportedly climbed up onto a tree behind a home, and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said they tried to keep the bear in the tree while waiting for a bear trapper.

Eventually, the bear came down, leading deputies to shoot and kill the animal.

But the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says it didn't tell deputies to shoot, according to WPTV. The sheriff's office, on the other hand, told the media outlet "its job is to prioritize safety over wildlife."

Sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera previously said law enforcement was waiting for FWC leaders to bring a bear trapper and tranquilizer, but "were forced to shoot the bear when it came down," in fear of the residents' safety, WPTV reports.

In a report, one deputy allegedly said a wildlife officer explained if the bear came down from the tree before the trapper got to the scene, they need to neutralize the bear because of public safety.

WPTV explains the deputy said the same FWC officer told them to back away from the bear, keeping an eye on it until nightfall under guidance from his supervisor.

FWC responded and said they were "not waiting for a trapper or a tranquilizer and had advised the best approach was to let the bear leave the area on its own," the media outlet reports.

“The FWC does not typically use tranquilizers on bears. Of the 5,000 to 6,000 bear-related calls the FWC receives each year, on average approximately 2% require a trapping effort and even fewer call for tranquilizing the bear when the bear is not inside the cage style trap,” FWC spokesperson Arielle Callender said to CBS 12. “In the rare instance that free range tranquilizing is required, the time it takes to have them on site depends on a variety of factors. 

"The FWC has select trained and licensed staff, both biologists and Law Enforcement, who have access to tranquilizers and these staff are located throughout the state."

The main question still unanswered is who makes the final call in these situations.

"It's miscommunication to the point we lost a beautiful animal for no reason whatsoever," resident Tim Harrison said to WPTV. "We need to get to a point where everybody unifies up. Everybody is on the same page. You're gonna have bears. It's Florida. They should have more training in this."

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