State Officials Warn Against Feeding Bears

State officials are warning north Florida residents against feeding bears after one had to be killed after a boy fed it from the palm of his hand in Carrabelle.

Wildlife officials say that once bears are fed, they lose their fear of people and can become aggressive and dangerous, and bears stop feeding in the wild once they start receiving food from humans.

The black bear in Carrabelle had been coming around for about two weeks, drawn by garbage dumped behind the apartments. He was put down Tuesday.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in 1998 estimated there were nearly 1,300 bears in Florida.

Sightings and other evidence suggest that the number of bears is increasing in some areas, particularly in the Apalachicola and Ocala National Forests.