Bear returns to Panama City after being relocated

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — A black bear that wildlife officials relocated to a forest some 90 miles away last month has made its way back to a Panama City neighborhood.

The 350-pound black bear was tranquilized on April 14 after it was spotted about 40 feet up in a tree in Panama City, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Stan Kirkland.

Officials marked the bear with a green tag with the code Wo88 and took it to Mud Swamp in the Apalachicola National Forest, east of Panama City.

But the bear was spotted in a Panama City residential neighborhood on Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s hard to believe that it’s him, but it is,” Kirkland told the News Herald of Panama City (http://bit.ly/1opDXOj ). “He’s back.”

Originally, wildlife officials suspected the bear swam from Tyndall Air Force Base to the St. Andrew neighborhood. But Kirkland says he has no idea how the bear made it back this time.

“We try to find a place we can take them and release them rather than euthanize them,” he said. “For whatever reason he didn’t stay put.”

Neighbors were watching as biologist Jerry Pitts shot a tranquilizer into the bear’s hip. The bear was clinging onto the tree with his claws until the tranquilizer knocked him out. He fell more than 20 feet to a tarp filled with airbags that officials set up beneath the tree.

The bear was held by the agency overnight and officials will determine what to do with the bear on Wednesday.

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Information from: The (Panama City, Fla.) News Herald, http://www.newsherald.com

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