LONGWOOD — A black bear cub connected to the mauling of a central Florida woman was struck and killed by a car last week, the latest twist in a saga that has shined a spotlight on the sometimes problematic interaction of bears and humans in this Orlando suburb.
Wildlife officials had been looking for the 65-pound female cub to reunite it with its two siblings and mother. The three bears are being cared for at Busch Gardens in Tampa. The cubs are expected to be released back into the wild in the spring, while their mother will be moved to another facility.
The mother was positively identified through DNA as the bear that mauled Susan Chalfant in Longwood on Dec. 2 as she walked her dogs through a gated community known for frequent bear sightings.
The mother bear was not euthanized because she was captured with two cubs.
The third cub died after being hit by a car late Friday in Longwood, near the neighborhood where Chalfant was mauled by the cub’s mother. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists buried the cub on Saturday.
Two other bears were euthanized after being captured in the days after Chalfant’s attack on suspicions that they may have been responsible.
Busch Gardens and the conservation commission, which captured the bears on Dec. 9, made the arrangements to keep the bears together.
Both agencies have a longtime partnership and have done conservation work together, but working with bears isn’t routine.
Wildlife officials had hoped to find the third cub, which fled during the capture, and bring it to Busch Gardens.
The black bear is the only species of bear found in Florida. The bears’ population revival from just a few hundred in the 1970s to more than 3,000 bears today is considered one of the state’s conservation success stories.
The state’s sprawl into areas previously deemed wilderness has contributed to more frequent human interactions with bears, state wildlife officials say.
State wildlife officials advise Floridians who encounter a bear to remain upright, speak to the bear calmly and back up slowly to a secure area, leaving the bear a clear escape route.