News Releases

Macclenny cake-stealing bear euthanized

News Release

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Media contact: Karen Parker, 386-758-0525

The birthday-cake-stealing bear that broke into a Macclenny home Oct. 3 has been euthanized, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

After tracking the bear for approximately two weeks, FWC biologists were able to pinpoint the bear's location using telemetry equipment. Because the area was so dense with underbrush, the safest course of action was determined to be the use of dogs to track the bear, and then personnel would tranquilize the animal.

Last week, an attempt to sneak up to the bear with the tranquilizing gun was unsuccessful. The bear was in a spot close to U.S. Highway 90. Because biologists were concerned that the bear might attempt to run across the road, units from the Baker County Sheriff's Office stopped traffic while the tracking was in progress.

"We were hopeful that the bear would climb a tree to evade the dogs, making it easy and safe to tranquilize the animal, but that did not happen," said Karen Parker, FWC public information coordinator. "Instead, the bear became aggressive. To wait for the drugs to take effect would have taken much too long. The FWC officer with the group of biologists and dog handlers tracking the bear authorized one of the handlers to shoot the bear. The animal was killed by a single shot to the head."

The decision to euthanize the bear was made once he broke into the home in Macclenny.

"This was a public-safety issue. The decision to euthanize an animal is never taken lightly at the FWC," Parker said. Black bears normally are too shy to risk contact with humans, but their strong food drive can overwhelm the instinct to get away from humans.

"When bears have access to unnatural food sources such as pet foods, garbage, barbecue grills, birdseed or livestock feed," Parker said, "they quickly learn to associate people with food."

Properly storing or securing garbage is a proven method of discouraging bears from coming around. Bird feeders and barbecue grills should be stored in a secure place, such as a garage or a sturdy shed. Place garbage cans outside on the morning of pickup, rather than the night before. People can encourage their neighbors, community or local government to use bear-resistant trash containers or dumpsters.

"People can also help by feeding pets indoors or bringing in dishes after feeding," Parker said.

If you see a black bear, remain calm. Don't run away. Walk calmly toward a building or vehicle and get inside.

"If you have children or pets, bring them inside. Encourage the bear to leave. Bang pots and pans, or blow an air horn or whistle. The more stressful the encounter with you, the less likely the bear is to come back," Parker said.

If a bear is in a tree, leave it alone. Remove people and pets from the area. The bear usually will come down and leave when it feels safe.

If the bear is threatening the safety of humans, pets or livestock or is causing property damage, report it to the FWC at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

Residents can find out more about living with black bears at

FWC Facts:
Breeding season for Florida black bears is summer, with the peak occurring from about mid-June through July.

Learn More at AskFWC