Recently, a Florida man was chased by a bear. He thinks that the curious animal was actually after his dog. So far this year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has received thousands of reports of bear encounters in Central Florida. In most cases, everything goes smoothly and no one gets hurt. However, there have been occasions when people have been injured.
Stuart Peisner said a recent encounter with a bear nearly put him in danger. He and his dog, Sable, take walk each day as part of their daily routine. Peisner loves his neighborhood because it’s peaceful with large lots and nearby Wekiwa Springs State Park. In all the years he’s walked around the streets, he’s never run into any problems–even though the animals are not uncommon in the area.
“It’s not a shock in the 30 years my mother has lived here and the 15 years I have lived here. We have seen bears on a regular basis,” Peisner told Spectrum News 13. This Longwood neighborhood is no stranger to animals — in fact, the Florida Wildlife Commission says they’ve received close to 3,000 bear-related calls from Central Florida this year. Peisner was one of those callers.
“So, the bear came out from here — it was about six o’clock in the morning and [it] started charging us,” Peisner explained. “And I let go of the leash and the dog went backwards, the other way. I just stood yelling at the [it], and I slipped and fell, scraping me knees. And I was getting up, and the bear was about 2 feet from me, snapping its jaws.”
The bear encounter was ‘the absolute scariest thing that has happened to me’, says Florida man
Peisner said he was terrified during his walk through the neighborhood and believes the animal was mostly interested in his dog. “It was the absolute scariest thing that has happened to me,” he recalled. “To have a large, aggressive male bear charge you- that is certainly capable of doing significant physical damage to you, if not killing you.”
Bear sightings are not uncommon during this time of year, according to Mike Orlando. He has been responding to reports of the animals in Central Florida neighborhoods with the FWC since the 90s. “In this case, we’re not sure why (the bear) was sleeping on the side of someone’s house,” Orlando explained. “We think it could have something to do with it’s almost season for hibernation, where a lot of bears will get gat in the fall. We call that hyperphagia.” In total, 47 bears have been captured by the FWC in Central Florida as of 2022.
From this experience, Peisner stated that he learned a lesson. “I keep my can of bear spray on me at all times,” he pointed out. “Whether it’s dark or not dark, just as a preventative measure.” In addition to the spray, another way Peisner keeps the animals away is by using a bear-proof garbage can. Apparently, bears are attracted to human trash, so this measure is mandatory in his community. With fall nearing an end, bears will be getting ready to go into hibernation. Hopefully, this will mean fewer bear sightings during Peisner and Sable’s walks.