DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — In Florida, one could coin a new term for black bears: Pets. Or maybe: Pests.
Some have gotten into the habit, it seems, of visiting neighborhoods there, and on Thursday, one was literally caught hanging around — in a Daytona Beach man’s hammock.
“He got in the hammock like he was a tourist or something,” homeowner Vincent James told CNN affiliate WESH. Usually, James is the one lounging on his back in the white rope mesh hanging between two trees.
He — or she — stayed in the hammock for about 20 minutes, said photographer Rafael Torres, who snapped pictures of the bear from 60 feet away. Torres’ presence did not seem to disturb the wild animal’s repose.
Residents say the bear has been scrounging for food in the neighborhood since Wednesday, ripping through garbage cans and knocking down bird feeders.
Aw, isn’t that cute?
Torres and James may have felt bemused by the large, furry chum lumbering in the ranks of chirping birds and foraging squirrels on their lawns, but other Floridians haven’t shared their glee.
In April, a black bear attacked a woman in her garage and dragged her out onto the driveway.
She claimed it was a posse of five bears that roughed her up, but authorities said it was only one. But there were a handful of black bears roaming the neighborhood at the time of the attack, they said.
Don’t feed the bears!
Wildlife officials also discourage the warm, fuzzy feeling some residents have for the black bears, pointing to the dangers they pose.
Wildlife law enforcement officers arrested an 81-year-old woman from Sebring in February for feeding loads of dog food to bears on her property.
She dished out up to 18 bowls at a time to furry bunches gathered in her yard.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission warned her multiple times to stop, but she would not for fear the animals would starve without her.
Officers were afraid the bears would get hazardously close to humans, and they killed one bear that was frequenting her feedings.
Once a bear feels too at home among people, relocating them doesn’t help, the FWC said back then.
It will keep coming back.