HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Residents were shocked to find a black bear roaming around their neighborhood in Homestead early in the morning on the Fourth of July.
According to Homestead police Sgt. Fernando Morales, the bear was spotted around 1:30 a.m. Thursday in the Oasis housing development.
Morales said officers immediately responded to the area and found a bear, estimated to be about 4 feet tall and 200 pounds, walking in between the backyards of homes.
Responding officers reported that the bear was not aggressive and they tracked it as it wandered through the neighborhood, keeping their vehicles between themselves and the bear.
Morales said the officers contacted residents who live near where the bear had been and asked neighborhood associations to send out email alerts.
He said the bear had left the area before a state wildlife crew arrived.
"I'm sure that the bear is more afraid of us, unless somebody is feeding it," a man named Alan, who lives in the neighborhood, said. "I'm sure if I see him, I'll stay away from him and he'll probably stay away from me."
According to Morales, there have been several bear sightings overnight in Homestead, with the last sighting being reported around 4:30 a.m. Friday.
He said authorities have stepped up patrols in the Oasis area and are urging residents to be alert.
He said one bear was also spotted in the Mallorca subdivision shortly before 11 p.m. and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers were called to try to capture the bear.
Morales said the area of concern is from Southwest 312th Street (Campbell Drive) south to Southwest 328th Street (Lucy Street), and Southwest 152nd Avenue east to Southwest 137th Avenue.
FWC officials said residents should secure their pet food, garbage and birdseed. They said anything that would attract a raccoon to their yard would also attract a bear.
Anyone who spots a bear near their home is asked to call police immediately.