Sniffing around for bargains?
A small bear was spotted roaming around an upscale mall in North Naples on Wednesday evening, reported WINK News, which has passersby pictures of the stroll.
Witnesses saw the cub in plain sight at Mercato Shops, a popular dining and shopping spot that includes a Nordstrom Rack, Whole Foods and Capital Grille.
Omnivorous with an excellent sense of smell, bears can sniff out a meal from a long distance in garbage and restaurants. So it’s probably not a coincidence that the animal decided to pay a visit at dinnertime.
Folks from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission showed up, but the little guy was already gone.
Mercato is near a wooded area, the bear’s probable destination, authorities believe. The area is being monitored in case of any more sightings over the holiday weekend.
The sight of a bear at a mall with kids and pets around is alarming, but if you see one, stay calm. And whatever you do, don’t leave out food.
According to Fish and Wildlife, bears that enter a public space and get rewarded with easily accessible food begin to lose their natural fear of people and their chances of survival drops. They will be more exposed to vehicle strikes, illegal shooting, or trapping and removal by the FWC to protect public safety.
“Remember, ‘A fed bear is a dead bear!’” the agency stresses.
The Miami Herald reached out to the mall Friday morning but did not immediately hear back.
READ MORE: See a mama bear and her cub approach this Florida home’s window
This story was originally published May 27, 2022 10:31 AM.