Close Encounters Man vs. Nature

Monstrous black bear captured, relocated in Florida

The 620-pound bruin, trapped after it had been discovered breaking into trash cans, is only four pounds shy of the largest ever recorded in state

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For the second time this month, Florida wildlife experts have dealt with an abnormally huge critter.

In early May, the largest Burmese python ever recorded in the state was captured and stabbed to death by a South Florida man who encountered the 18-foot, 8-inch reptile on a remote road.

Late last week, a near-record black bear was trapped, tranquilized, and relocated to a more remote area.

The massive bruin, captured after it had been breaking into trash cans in the Ocala National Forest, weighed 620 pounds. It’s the largest bear ever captured in Florida and only four pounds shy of the largest recorded in the state: a 624-pound bear killed years ago in a vehicle collision in Naples.

(The image atop this post is a video screen grab of the 620-pound male bear. Footage of the release, showing the animal scampering over a video camera, is posted above.)

For the sake of comparison, male black bears in some states have exceeded 800 pounds.

“This bear was so used to getting into trash that even after the garbage was secured in a shed he returned and pulled the aluminum siding off to get at his free meal,” the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stated on its Facebook page.

The capture, in Lake County, was part of a successful effort by the agency to tranquilize and relocate the bear to a more remote area, where it’s hoped he’ll resume a more natural feeding cycle—and perhaps shed a few pounds.

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Enormous black bear is shown after it had been tranquilized, and before it was released. Credit for both images and video: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

“Bears that habitually feed on human-supplied foods such as garbage and wildlife feed or pet food can become abnormally large because of the high number of calories found in these food sources,” the FWC stated.

As for the 128-pound python, it was killed by South Florida resident Jason Leon in Miami-Dade County, after he had grabbed a portion of the snake and it had begun to wrap around his legs.

Leon was praised by the FWC because Burmese pythons are an invasive species and a threat to native wildlife.

Researchers at the University of Florida have preserved the snake’s skeleton, but Leon was recently presented with the beautiful skin.

He’s quoted by the Associated Press as saying: “Look at the pattern on that snake. I see God’s creation.”

There are an estimated 3,000 black bears in Florida, and a considerable but undetermined number of Burmese pythons within the Everglades region.

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