Oviedo police chief warns of bears in area, near UCF
Bears near campus? It's not out of the realm of possibilities said Oviedo Police Chief Jeffrey Chudnow.
Issuing a warning to the residents of Oviedo, the city that borders the northern end of campus, Chudnow said bears are definitely present in the area and not to get too comfortable with them. This means, don't attract the bears, he said, and be wary of where trash is left outside.
"My biggest concern is people being too inquisitive – getting too close to the bears," Chudnow told WFTV. "The key is not to attract [the bears]."
Chudnow said he is particularly concerned about specific neighborhoods and that there has been a record number of bear sightings reported. The neighborhoods of his concern include Twin Rivers, which is just a few miles from campus off of Lockwood Boulevard, Sanctuary, Live Oak and Riverside, which is also off of Lockwood Boulevard near UCF.
The warning comes a year and a half after reports of a bear sighting actually occurred on the UCF campus. The bear was spotted near Academic Village and the Recreation and Wellness Center in June 2013.
The most common bear to the area is the black bear, according to documents posted to the city of Oviedo's website, which can weigh up to 400 pounds.
"Black bears typically want nothing to do with you and will run and hide from people when given the chance," the document states. "However, black bears are large and powerful wild animals and they have scratched and bitten people who have provoked them. Give the bear respect and space. Like most wildlife, if you don't bother it, the bear likely won't bother you."
If you come in contact with a bear, remain standing, don't stare into the bear's eyes, back up slowly and speak to the bear in a calm voice, the city advises.
"Don't run away, approach the bear or play dead. Find a safe place and make sure the bear has an escape route, then yell or bang pots and pans together to scare the bear away," the document states.