Bear sightings on the rise in Oviedo

The City of Oviedo, in Seminole County, is dealing with an increasing population of black bears. There were five reported sightings in 2016 and a whopping 70 in 2018, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“A cop came to the door, Oviedo police man and said don’t come out,” said Cathy Schneck, Oviedo resident.

Cathy Schneck and her husband Mel got quite the surprise when a massive bear showed up steps from their front door.

“I was like oh, my gosh, I got all excited because I wanted to go see it but he wouldn’t let us come out, so I went upstairs to the bedroom window and I could see the foot of the bear in the tree and it was going back and forth,” said Schneck.

That scenario is playing out more and more in the Oviedo community.

“What we’re seeing is an increasing bear population statewide, about 4,000 plus bears now,” said Patrick Kelly, Oviedo Assistant City Manager.

The jump in population is forcing the City to warm residents.

“Every week we have social media posts that go out to remind everyone to secure their trash, put it out in the morning rather than at night to give the bears less of ab opportunity to root through the trash and get an easy meal,” said Patrick Kelly, Oviedo Assistant City Manager.

The posts are part of an education campaign launched unresponsive to the rising numbers of sightings.

“They are wild, they are dangerous and we encourage folks to stay away, steer clear,” said Patrick Kelly, Oviedo Assistant City Manager.

But could the spike be due to development in the area? Kelly says "No."

“The city has not increased its boundaries out toward the east, we haven’t developed anything recently, other than a few pockets here and there, development is always a concern as far as it’s impact on wildlife and we try to account for that when we plan,” said Patrick Kelly, Oviedo Assistant City Manager.

Regardless, no one can deny, the bears were here first. The Schnecks say don’t bother them and they won’t bother you.

“You can see them walking down the street sometimes, you just stay out of their way,” said Schneck.

The FWC reminds people that the bears are not generally aggressive but to not intentionally come into contact with them.