NAPLES, Fla. – A black bear appears to be making itself at home in a southwest Florida golf community.
According to the Naples Daily News and WTVT, members, residents and employees at The Club at The Strand in Naples have spotted the large bear wandering around the golf course and strolling down neighborhood streets since Father’s Day.
“No bear hugs!” the club captioned a June 19 Facebook post, which included a video of the furry forager filmed by golf operations worker Ross McGee.
“Biggest bear spotted at The Strand yet. Please be cautious and respectful. We share a home with these natives!”
Three days later, the club shared more photos and videos after the guest made another unexpected detour.
“The sweet bear … surprised golf operations today, as it joined them in the cart barn,” the neighborhood wrote in an Instagram post.
“Please be alert, the bear has not been aggressive,” the post continued. “It shuffles out of people’s way and is sensitive to noise, but it did go on to roam the tennis courts (players cleared out), headed towards fitness center and then proceeded onto the golf course. We sent our team to check on it, and the bear was last seen in a pond cooling off, so it does have a water source it goes back to and lots of shade.”
Staffers have contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission about the animal, the post added.
About 4,050 black bears live in Florida, and no other bear species live in the state, according to the FWC.
“If you encounter a bear at close range, remain standing upright, back up slowly and speak to the bear in a calm, assertive voice,” the agency advises on its website. “Do NOT feed or intentionally attract bears. If a bear eats something on your property, take note of what it is and secure it once the bear leaves.”
The FWC added that people should “NEVER approach or surprise a bear” or “make any sudden or abrupt movements” if one is nearby.
“Back away slowly and be sure the bear has an obvious escape route,” the agency said.