Black bear wandering around College Park in Orlando: 'Do not approach'

Authorities are warning residents not to approach a black bear recently spotted around Orlando. As of Tuesday morning, the bear is still roaming the area of College Park, according to police.

The Orlando Police Department (OPD) said it received several calls and messages on Monday morning regarding the bear. The department contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to safely retrieve the animal. FWC spokesperson Lisa Thompson said seeing a bear in a Downtown Orlando neighborhood isn't necessarily cause for alarm. 

"During this time of year, bears are more active. Juvenile bears are starting to leave their mother’s home range and may be seen in unexpected areas as they try to find a new home," she said. 

One video clip shared with FOX 35 News appears to show a juvenile bear running through Lake Highland Park. Another video shows what appears to be the same bear walking along the eastern shore of Lake Ivanhoe less than half-a-mile northwest of Lake Highland and very near a busy stretch of Orange Ave.  

The same bear has been tracked to a tree in College Park in the area of Yale Street and Formosa Avenue, which is on the opposite side of Interstate 4 from where the bear was originally spotted. OPD is asking people to avoid the area unless they are residents of the neighborhood to keep "everyone, including the bear" safe.

While bears can be found just about anywhere across the Sunshine State, they are frequently seen in Central Florida and in the Panhandle, an FWC Interactive Public Bear Map shows. 

Officials say black bears sometimes visit neighborhoods and if they cannot find food, they typically move on. 

"If you see a bear, give it space, don’t try to approach it, and never feed it," Thompson added.

In light of the recent bear sighting, FWC officials said residents should always stay aware of their surroundings, keep an eye on their pets, and walk dogs on a short leash. Downtown Orlando residents and business owners are also being asked to secure garbage cans and other possible food sources for bears.

Contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) if you feel threatened by a bear; observe a sick, injured, dead or orphaned bear; or need to report someone who is either harming bears or intentionally feeding them.