Tina Sutton got quite the shock when she checked her doorbell notifications to find a black bear waiting patiently at her doorstep. Pensacola News Journal
PENSACOLA, Fl. — With heat indexes reaching near-record temperatures in the Florida Panhandle, even the state’s furriest residents are seeking refuge from the sun.
The Holley by the Sea Recreation Center in Navarre sent out an alert to residents and poolgoers this past week advising that there have been two reported black bear sightings in the past week on the pool deck of the Recreation Center.
HBTS Recreation Center General Manager April Salazar told the News Journal that the first sighting was June 20 between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. The black bear entered the pool property from an adjacent neighborhood and took a dip in the pool to cool off before going on its way, Salazar said. Nobody was in the pool and nobody was injured. Pool maintenance workers saw the bear and reported it to management.
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A black bear roams near the pool on the Holley by the Sea pool deck in Navarre on Thursday, June 20. The HBTS Recreation Center is alerting visitors that there have been two bear sightings in the past week near the pool deck.
(Photo: Courtesy of April Salazar)
The second sighting, believed to be the same bear, was June 24 at around 9:30 a.m. The bear was spotted near the pool deck and eyed the pool as if it wanted to get in, Salazar said, but didn’t because there were people in the pool.
“He didn’t actually try to get in with them,” Salazar said. “When he realized that they weren’t going to get out, he turned around and left.”
Salazar alerted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission both times, and an agent came out to try to locate the bear, but couldn’t find it.
The FWC agent provided the following safety tips for HBTS residents and poolgoers:
What to do if you see a bear:
Immediately vacate the area and get inside a building, if possible. Do not run. Walk calmly to the closest building entrance, keeping the bear in your sight. If you cannot vacate the area or enter a building, group together with other people to make yourself appear larger. This should deter the bear from approaching your group. Yell, clap your hands, make as much noise as possible (lifeguards have whistles and blow horns), but do not chase/follow the bear as it moves away from you. Stay in one spot and continue to make noise until the bear is far enough away that you and your group can proceed to the nearest building. Do not run. Report the sighting to the front desk staff. FWC will be called, if they are not already on property.
What not to do:
Do not run.Do not approach the bear. Do not follow or corner the bear to take pictures or video.
Salazar said there is no immediate threat to swimmers’ safety in the pool area, though people should always be aware of their surroundings and report any sightings to recreation center staff immediately. Staff is working with the FWC to mitigate any future bear interactions and educate people with signage and social media alerts about bear safety.
The recreation facility sees between 10,000 and 12,000 people come through each month.
“We just want people to be cautious and alert them that we had seen a bear, and notify them of what to do if they see one, so that they don’t endanger the bear or themselves,” Salazar said. “We don’t want members to panic.”