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Bear Wanders Through USF, Captured at Busch Gardens

A bear that might have been looking for love was captured at Busch Gardens early this morning after making an earlier stop at USF's Tampa campus.

The 270 pound, 2 1/2 year old Florida black bear was first spotted by a USF student around 1 a.m. Tuesday outside of the Argos Hall residence hall. 

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission officials had been tracking the bear since it was last seen in Land O'Lakes last week, so they were able to monitor him as he made the three mile journey through campus, before climbing up a tree near the main entrance of Busch Gardens off Busch Boulevard. 

"Typically these bears will travel the corridors that are undeveloped," said FWC spokesman Gary Morse. "Unfortunately, often those corridors dead end into places like the USF campus and New Tampa where they are forced to deal with human development, traffic and all sorts of other problems."

The bear was tranquilized and taken to Apalachicola National Forest, where he'll once again be released into his natural habitat.

Morse says this bear is a bit of a wandering spirit who probably made the more than seventy mile trip in search of a mate.

"This bear was released north of Weeki Wachee after having spent the last year spending the last year on Sanibel Island. Bears typically wander when they're looking for their own territory, and particularly male bears when they are looking for mates, so this is not an uncommon situation where you have a bear wandering from a wildlife area into an urbanized area."

And even though USF also saw a bobcat appear on campus in early June, Morse says people who live and work there shouldn't be frightened or even surprised by this apparent increase in animal activity.

"People around the campus shouldn't have to worry that there's wildlife in the area, there's been wildlife there for many years. But you are on the end of a wildlife corridor, which kind of dumps wildlife out on your campus."

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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