ROYAL PALM BEACH, FL – At approximately 8:00 am, a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to a bear sighting in the area of Crestwood Blvd just west of Royal Palm Beach Blvd in Royal Palm Beach. Upon arrival, the deputy observed a large black bear, approximately 6’ and estimated at 300 pounds, on the south side of Crestwood Blvd entering the bushes and began walking west bound between the bushes and the fence line. The fence line backs up to residences of Belmont Drive in the Saratoga Lakes Development.
The deputy attempted to keep an eye on the bear as it was walking west bound but lost sight of it. Minutes later he was able to reacquire the bears location as it was now walking east bound in the bushes towards the canal located just east of the initial sighting. The bear then walked towards the canal and turned south into the back yard of 116 Belmont Drive where the bear climbed a tree which also contained a baby swing and a small trampoline underneath it. The bear was observed to be resting in the tree for a short period of time. The bear then climbed down from the tree and began to walk west through the backyard and back to the bushes along Crestwood Blvd. The bear traveled west along the fence line. While attempting to locate the bear Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers arrived on scene.
The Sheriff’s deputy spoke with the resident in the 100 block of Belmont Drive who stated that she and her husband were inside her house in the company of her three kids, 1 year old and 9. After hearing her dog bark she noticed the black bear inside her covered back-porch, approximately five feet from her back slider, an area where her kids normally play. The bear looked in her direction which placed her in fear for her and her family’s life. The bear continued to walk around towards the south side of the house. After a few seconds of the bear going out of her view she saw the bear again walking back. Directly next to the porch she has a tall tree which the bear climbed. After a few short minutes, the bear came down and continued to walk towards the north side of her residence at which time she lost visual of it.
At 8:59 am, second deputy arrived at Crestwood Blvd just west of Royal Palm Beach Blvd where he secured a perimeter spot at the southwest corner of Huntington Woods development in reference to locating and containing a black bear which was loose in the Saratoga Lakes development.
At 9:54 am, residents in the 100 block of Belmont Drive contacted the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office stating the bear was on the side of their residence. The deputy then relocated his vehicle to the front of that residence in an attempt to contain the bear. Moments later the deputy was advised that the bear had climbed a tall tree in the 900 block of Crestwood Blvd so he then repositioned his vehicle to that location and assisted additional deputies and Wildlife officers who had taken control of the scene to keep the flow of traffic moving and also keep the public at a reasonable distance.
Palm Beach Sheriff’s Drone units arrived on scene to attempt to locate the bear. The bear was then observed coming out of the bushes and climbed a large pine tree approximately 50 feet in the air. The bear stayed in the tree while Wildlife Conservation officers stood at the bottom to locate a trapper, tranquilize the bear and relocate it. After several hours of waiting and several attempts of scaring the bear back into the tree, at 12:25 pm, the bear began to climb down the tree, deputies were was faced with making the decision to discharge their shotguns striking and killing the bear.