FWC: Weeki Wachee bear nicknamed ‘Boo Boo’ may get a break if he takes the bait

WEEKI WACHEE, Fla. (WFLA) – The Hernando County bear nicknamed ‘Boo Boo’ may have beaten the odds. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is now working to capture the injured animal, check it out and hopefully relocate it to the Ocala National Forest.

Boo Boo became known locally after Cat and Ron Richardson took to Facebook, posting pictures of the bear, and commenting that no one seemed to want to help.

The couple has been setting out food for the bear, which they know isn’t a good idea, but they don’t feel they have a choice.

“I can’t rightfully not feed him. I feel bad for him, especially since he’s hurt,” said Ron. “If he was a healthy bear, I would say, ‘that’s a bad thing. Let’s not do it.'”

The FWC discourages anyone from feeding bears or other injured wildlife. Mike Orlando, one of the agency’s bear experts, says in a majority of cases, that act causes more harm than good.

“Not only are you keeping them away from natural foods,” said Orlando. “But you’re also getting them conditioned to look for people as an easy source of handouts.”

That being said, Orlando says the Richardsons set out food for the bear, but didn’t interact with it. The couple didn’t bring the bear its food or come out while it was eating. Therefore, in this case, it doesn’t appear the bear is associating food with humans. Those are the cases that generally turn into problems.

The trap for Boo Boo is set in the Richardson’s backyard and if the bear takes the bait, he could soon be on his way.

Orlando says the bear will be checked out after its capture.

“In the video that we’ve seen, doesn’t seem like any major injuries to this bear,” said Orlando. “So we’ll take some measurements, stuff like that, give him an overall workup and as he wakes up, hopefully we’ll be in the Ocala National Forest.”

Cat Richardson says this whole ordeal has taught her a thing or two about bears and wildlife in general. She’s simply pleased the manner in which she and her husband fed the bear didn’t impose a death sentence.

“You hear a fed bear is a dead bear? That’s actually the truth,” said Cat. “If he had ever come into contact with us they would not be doing what they’re doing right now.”

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