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Two black bears relocated in Okaloosa County
FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. -- Two black bears were trapped Tuesday night behind the Krystal restaurant in Fort Walton Beach.
Laura Hussey spent the day with Fish and Wildlife officers who tagged and released the animals. She tells us why they say moving the bears is not the best solution.
The female black bear is about to be released on the Eglin Reservation.
She's tranquilized right now, but Tuesday night she was feasting from the Krystal dumpster when she was trapped by Florida Fish and Wildlife.
The owner of Krystal didn't entirely mind the bears nighttime visits, and he says employees weren't scared of the hungry intruders.
"But really what happened during the daytime they came out, and that really concerned me with the customers and everything. If there's a bear and there's a customer, it might be some troubles," said Howard Pickens.
Fish and Wildlife biologists trapped the two bears within an hour of closing time Tuesday night.
They mix the smallest dose of sedative possible, so they can get the bears out of captivity quickly.
The jab stick is not a hit, but soon the bears are measured, tattooed, and tagged.
The male cub weighs 150 pounds.
"He's pretty hefty for his age, and he's been living on garbage," said Barbara Almario.
The Fish and Wildlife agents hope a move to the reservation will change the bear's habits, but there's no guarantee.
"Unfortunately, there are studies out there that say 40-50 percent move back into either urban areas or the same area they came from," Almario said.
Keeping bears away from neighborhoods and businesses permanently means removing temptation.
Howard Pickens is working with Fish and Wildlife to secure his dumpster.
"What we need is a steel one that we can lock and keep them out. Then if they don't get the taste of it, then they'll end up hopefully going back in the woods and trying to live," Pickens said.
The Fish and Wildlife biologists stress that we live in bear territory. The sooner we accept that we're all going to have to live together, and the humans behave proactively, the less problems there will be.