KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Changes could be on the way for people living in a Seminole County neighborhood, where a homeowner shot and killed a bear earlier this year.
- Black bear shot by man in Seminole Co. in July
- Neighbors of man want to implement 'bear-wise' practices
- Kathi Harmon started committee to assure practices are followed
- PREVIOUS STORY: FWC investigating Longwood black bear shooting
Sweetwater Oaks neighborhood leaders are pushing for everyone to take steps to prevent incidents with black bears.
Kathi Harmon says there’s hardly a day when she doesn’t see black bears in her yard. In fact, after her family first moved into their Sweetwater Oaks home many years ago, her daughter says she saw a bear grab a beer from a fridge in the garage. They’ve since learned to never leave the garage door open.
Back in July, one of Harmon’s neighbors shot and killed a black bear. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers say the homeowner claims the bear charged after him and his daughter near their garage. FWC is still investigating the incident.
Harmon says bears have never threatened her family.
“No, they just look like bears walking through the yard, they don’t pay any attention to me,” said Harmon.
Harmon says in her yard, bears have learned they won’t get an easy meal.
She uses a bear-resistant trashcan. Her family also keeps their grill clean, and keeps anything else that a bear could sniff out from miles away out of reach.
Harmon formed a neighborhood homeowner association committee that’s now working to require all of her neighbors to be bear-wise.
“A lot of our goal is to educate our community on how to live with the bears,” Harmon said.
Harmon says everyone’s not yet on board, because they believe bear-resistant trash cans are too expensive.
“So you have people who don’t think the HOA should spend that amount of our money on something like that; it’s just not a priority for them,” she said.
But Harmon believes if people buy in, the neighborhood will avoid incidents like the one this past summer.
“Part of living in this area is learning to live with the wildlife,” she said. “We’re never going to get rid of them.”
You can learn more about black bears, and living with bears at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website.