A Gulf Breeze man, in the unincorporated portion of the county, and his dog were attacked by a black bear Saturday evening in the man’s front yard.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) responded to the scene on Sunday, Jan. 29 where a dog and his owner were injured by the bear with non-life-threatening injuries. The man was treated at Gulf Breeze Hospital and released the same night.

The man let his dog out into the front yard where it came into the path of the bear. The man approached to assist his canine companion when the bear swatted at him.

“We initially responded to the call on Capitol Dr. in Gulf Breeze,” said Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office (SRCSO) Public Information Officer (PIO) Sergeant Rich Aloy. “I can tell you we responded on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 7:19 p.m. One subject was taken to the hospital with minor wounds. That’s the extent of our involvement. After that, it was referred to FWC.”

Aloy said it is standard protocol to refer all unpleasant bear encounters to the FWC for further investigation as it is the only agency tasked with investigating such incidents. Accordingly, FWC law enforcement officers and biologists are currently investigating this incident, collecting evidence and have initiated trapping efforts in the area where the attack occurred.

A report issued by the FWC states, “Public safety is paramount to the FWC and staff will remain in the area to speak to residents and continue trapping efforts.”

The FWC advises residents that Florida has a robust and growing bear population and that citizens should be aware of their surroundings, always supervising pets and children while outdoors. Residents should also be careful about securing garbage and removing other attractants as the National Park Service (NPS) reports that bears can smell food sources from over a mile away. The FWC states, “[It] is the best way to deter bears from coming on your property.”

The FWC relies on residents to report any threatening bear behavior by calling their local FWC office, or if after regular business hours, calling the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at (888) 404-FWCC (3922).

From Gulf Breeze News. More coverage, with video, at WECT & FOX news.