110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Pat Andrews
posted Dec 6, 2013 - 3:59:23pm
While black-bear sightings are fairly common in Glenwood and other more rural areas of West Volusia, they're not common in the heart of DeLand.
The sight of a bear casually ambling across the intersection of Clara and Minnesota avenues around 8:30 a.m. Dec. 6 got the attention of neighborhood resident Pete Dunn.
Dunn, head baseball coach at Stetson University, was in his car on the way to the campus Friday morning when he spotted the bear, a large male.
"I saw the big old black bear just ambling across the intersection into a yard," he said.
Dunn, in the safety of his car, followed the bear. It wandered into the backyard of one house while a woman worked in her front yard.
Dunn alerted her, and the woman ran inside to tell her husband.
The bear then went over the fence, and Dunn tracked it for several blocks as it made its way toward Pennsylvania Avenue. Dunn called 911 to report the bear.
The dispatcher told him the DeLand Police Department would be notified, and also gave Dunn the toll-free number to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Management Commission.
Dunn said he spoke to a woman who was unperturbed by his report. Bears are on the move this time of year, looking for acorns and other food, Dunn said she told him.
If it's just a sighting, and it's not being a problem bear — if the bear is not getting into trash or causing other problems — FWC will take a report, but won't send anyone out, FWC spokeswoman Karen Parker told The Beacon.
Bears are very active this time of year, and are happy when they find a free meal, Parker said.
Dunn said there are plenty of trees and acorns in the Northwest DeLand neighborhood.
The bear ambled on to the parking lot of Stetson Cove Apartments at 315 W. Pennsylvania Ave., where Stetson University students are housed, so Dunn also notified Bob Matusick, head of Stetson security.
"None of our students saw it," Matusick said.
He called DeLand police about the bear.
Next, the bear headed toward toward the retention pond on the corner of Clara and Pennsylvania avenues.
Pete Dunn called his wife, Debbie, who came to take a look and got photos of the bear as it came over a fence — breaking it – on Delaware Avenue.
Some city workers in the area watched, also.
"He was huge," Debbie Dunn said of the bear.
The bear headed back into the retention area, then over a fence into a wooded area.
DeLand City Commissioner Leigh Matusick (who is also Bob Matusick’s wife) said she believes railroad tracks that run parallel to and south of Minnesota Avenue in the Northwest DeLand neighborhood provide an easy route in and out of town for bears.
DeLand police spokesman Sgt. Chris Estes said only one call came in about the bear. DeLand police also notified FWC of the sighting.
This bear isn't the first to ever appear in the area.
In October 2009, the Stetson campus was abuzz after a black bear was spotted climbing a tree near the circle drive in front of the Carlton Union Building. It may have been attracted by smells coming from the cafeteria and nearby trash dumpsters.
FWC workers followed the bear as it headed west on Minnesota Avenue, and DeLand police cordoned off the area.
That bear was last spotted about 3 miles east of the St. Johns River.
West Volusia is currently under a rabies alert. A cat and raccoons have tested positive for the disease in the past few months. Do bears pose a rabies risk?
Almost none, according to FWC.
FWC’s Habitat and Species Conservation Diane Hirth said, “It is extremely rare for bears to get rabies. There have been maybe six-seven cases in recorded history, and never in Florida.”
The comments posted below are posted by readers, not by The Beacon staff. These comments express the views and opinions of the authors, and not the administrators, moderators or webmaster. The comments forum is governed by these rules. Please use the report abuse link if you find offensive comments.
Did you find this story interesting or informative? Subscribe to The West Volusia Beacon to read more stories by Pat Andrews, along with others from our award-winning writers. Subscribe now!