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FWC Officers Fatally Shoot Bear in Ave Maria

bear10aA black bear moved from house to house on Milano Street in Ave Maria Sunday, threatening residents before he was finally shot by a state law enforcement officer around 6 p.m.

A bear had been spotted earlier in the afternoon in Ave Maria and the sighting was reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as well as Ave Maria University campus security. The bear then showed up later that afternoon in the garage of a resident of Milano St. and FWC law enforcement officials, who were on call, responded, according to AMU's Bill Kirk, who is responsible for the university's security services. Right, Michael Buccheri, 7, watches the bear at his window.

Mr. Kirk said that the responding officers, and others, including himself, then watched the bear as he wandered through the residential neighborhood

bear7Lieu Nguyen (left) was washing her car in her driveway shortly before 6 p.m. when she sensed something wasn't right.

"I felt a presence, and breathing behind me," she said. Mr. Kirk says he hollered to her to get in his car, and once she was inside the bear climbed on the hood of the vehicle. The bear then went into Ms. Nguyen's garage looking for food, but finding none, became aggressive and then charged an FWC esponding officer who shot it dead, Mr. Kirk said.

A number of bears have been reported in Ave Maria during the last several months. The university administration and Ave Maria Development have been working with the FWC to control the bears. Traps have been set to catch bears on several occasions, but the bears have not taken the bait in the traps.

[update] It is highly unusual for FWC officers to shoot a bear, FWC spokeswoman Carli Segelson said Monday. The agency's preference, she said, is to tranquilize it and a biologist was en route to Ave Maria with a tranquilizer gun but the law enforcement officers at the scene determined that the bear was too aggressive and had to shoot it before the biologist arrived.

 It is not clear whether other bears are still in the area. Below, FWC officials by the bear after it was shot.

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Left, the bear at the door of another house on Milano Street.

(photos by Roseanne Buccheri, Bill Kirk, Diana Milhizer and The Ave Herald)

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