Bear in Fla Attack Tracked Down and Euthanized

Friday, 06 Dec 2013 07:13 AM

By Michael Mullins

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A 200-pound female black bear was tracked down and euthanized two days after a 54-year-old Florida woman was attacked and mauled.

Susan Chalfant was attacked Monday night while walking her two small dogs in Longwood. Though injured with lacerations to her head, Chalfant managed to escape from the bear and make it to a neighbor's house to call police. Her dogs were apparently unharmed in the incident.

Within 48 hours of the attack, state wildlife officials caught a black bear that resembled the description of the animal that attacked her. Though they were unable to definitively link the captured bear with the one responsible for attacking Chalfant, officials decided to euthanize the animal due to its proximity to the attack and its resemblance to the animal responsible for the attack.

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"We don’t know positively for sure it’s the same bear," Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) spokeswoman Karen Parker said in a statement reported ABC News. "The only person who was a witness was the woman who was hurt and our investigators still have not been able to speak with her."

"Since the incident resulted in serious injuries, we decided to follow the course of an abundance of caution and put the bear down," FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley added. "Because public safety is a top priority we will continue working with the community and our trapping efforts."

Residents in Longwood, a suburban-like city about 15 miles north of Orlando in Seminole County, told CNN that bears are prevalent throughout the community, so much so that there are bear paths in certain areas and the massive animals are frequently seen roaming down the street.

"There's an actual walkway of the bears between my home and the immediate neighbor," a Longwood resident who asked to be identified only as Richard told CNN. "We see them on a regular basis, especially the nights before garbage pickups."

According to local wildlife officials, if area homeowners do not properly enclose their garbage, bears will continue to be a constant nuisance and potential risk in the area.

"Unless we get the full cooperation with everybody in every neighborhood around here, the bears are going to come in for a free lunch," Karen Parker added.

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CNN noted that unprovoked black bear attacks are extremely rare in Florida, with the first ever to be documented by the FWC having occurred last year. One of the reasons for the increased encounters between bears and people is because humans are increasingly moving into areas that were previously only inhabited by bears and other Florida wildlife, biologists tell CNN.

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