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Bear spotted in tree at Busch Gardens | News

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Bear spotted in tree at Busch Gardens
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Tampa, Florida --  A black bear spotted in a tree at Busch Gardens early this morning along Busch Boulevard is heading back to the forest.

The chase began around 1a.m. this morning when a USF student reported seeing the bear wandering outside of the Argos Hall dormitory.

The bear was tracked for about three miles through the campus and ultimately, up a tree just inside the perimeter fence at Busch Gardens where he was tranquilized and captured.

PHOTOS: Bear spotted in tree at Busch Gardens

This morning, he's on his way to the Apalachicola National Forest where he'll be released back into his natural habitat...again.

This Florida black bear has been on one incredible journey over the last year.

The adventure for the 2 1/2 year old, 270-pound bear likely began in the Southwest Florida area where it's believed he may be part of a black bear population there.

About a year ago, FWC says he the swim to Sanibel Island where he'd been spotted multiple times until he was finally caught on June 21st.

FWC moved the bear to Citrus County's Chassahowitzka Wildlife Refuge, but the bear wasn't willing to stay put. He's been on the go since, likely looking for a mate while trying to make his way back home.

"As young bears do when they reach sexual propensity, they go looking for love in all the wrong places," said Gary Morse, FWC spokesman.

Florida Fish and Wildlife says the bear was spotted last week in Spring Hill and then on Friday, in the area of Land O'Lakes in Pasco County.

All was quiet until this morning when the bear was seen roaming the campus of USF.

"He's just working his way south and he ran into Tampa and that's not good for him, trying to get through this urbanized situation is difficult," explained Morse.

Click: FWC Florida Black Bear

Morse says bear sightings in Florida are not uncommon, although spotting one in Tampa is a rarity compared to our neighbors in Orlando or Fort Myers where black bear populations live nearby.

Morse says they believe Apalachicola is far enough north that the bear will not make another attempt to get back to Southwest Florida where he's a known roamer.

The Florida black bear has made news in recent weeks because as part of the Black Bear Management Plan put together by FWC, it will be removed from the state threatened list because the population has rebounded over the years from about 300 in the 1970's to about 3,000 today.


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