NORTH PORT, Fla. (WFLA) — A large black bear that was caught on camera roaming around a church parking lot in North Port may have been displaced by recent wildfires in the area.
The video was taken on Saturday night by police officer Justin Lindsey at the Liberty Community Church parking lot.
For residents, seeing a black bear in this area is unusual.
“To see one here in our parking lot we couldn’t believe it,” says church member Chris Wright.
She and her husband, Randy, who is the pastor of the church just moved from Tennessee, where they say they saw bears in their own backyard every day. Because it is so unique to see a bear in this area, church members believe it was pushed out of its home due to the recent, nearby Raintree brush fire.
“Because of the big fire we had last week she was out foraging or looking for food. So, naturally she dumped the dumpster over and was just doing what an animal would do,” says Pastor Randy Wright.
It’s a likely theory, according to police.
“It could have certainly have had something to do with it. Maybe the bear was looking for water, food, it certainly could have pushed many animals out of that area unfortunately,” says North Port police PIO Josh Taylor.
With summer just beginning, we are in the thick of brush fire season which means this could continue to happen not just with bears, but other wildlife as well. Police tell us if someone is caught harassing or enticing an animal, they’ll pay a price.
“If we find out someone is doing that, we’ll take it to the full extent of the law certainly,” says Taylor.
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