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Black bear seen on UF campus; wildlife officials seek to trap and relocate it

A young black bear appeared on UF's campus on Thursday morning near Mowry Road. (Lee Ann Anderson/WUFT News)
A young black bear appeared on UF's campus on Thursday morning near Mowry Road. (Lee Ann Anderson/WUFT News)

A black bear was spotted on the University of Florida’s campus Thursday morning, just west of UF's band practice field near Mowry Road.

Before long, a crowd of about 40 people gathered to observe it. The bear was roughly three feet tall.

Abby Powell, a UF professor of wildlife biology, peered at it through binoculars.

“I am looking at a young male," she said, "probably male black bear.”

Susan Jacobson, a former wildlife professor, came out just to see it with her own eyes.

“They are fairly rare," she said. "There’s only about three or four thousand black bears left in Florida, so it’s a really great thing we get to see it.”

UF has a pest management team. However, as its coordinator Brad Files said, bears are out of UF’s jurisdiction.

“Alligators and bears we can’t touch," he said. "Florida Fish and Wildlife (Conservation Commission) comes in and does it.”

He joked he was unsure of his role in the situation.

“It's the first time I’ve seen a bear," he said. "I don’t know what the standard procedure is.”

Wildlife officials said Thursday afternoon if the bear doesn’t leave campus, officers will set traps to relocate it. As of 3 p.m., officers were working to lure the bear into a non-hazardous trap with donuts and cake to move it off campus.

It’s not uncommon to see juvenile bears exploring this time of year.

The state wildlife agency said one- to two-year-old bears “may be seen in unexpected areas” as they venture out into the real world to look for new homes.

In that sense, the bear had a kinship with the students on UF's campus Thursday.

Matthew is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.