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Friday, August 12, 2022

The woman was driving her daughter and granddaughter at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday night when he ran into her Toyota Camry.

It didn’t take him long to escape into the woods on the east side of U.S. Route 441. The suspect left nothing with the driver — no name, no number. He was described as large and dark.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had his information, though, as part of their black bear data. He was tagged last year and was still wearing a collar with a GPS device attached.

The bear made it into the woods, and he was able to push himself through the bushes, said Gainesville Police Sgt. Stephen Girard. He was barely alive. The impact of the accident had ripped the right headlight out of the Camry.

Jim Garrison, a biologist with the commission, said workers would take the bear to a commission research lab to examine him. He said the bear was alive, but its breathing was labored.

“He’s struggling,” Garrison said.

This was the third Alachua County bear roadkill he’s seen in two weeks, a higher number than normal. The bear population usually increases starting in June, Garrison said, but it seems like that’s already happening in the county.

The drought might be pushing black bears to move more, he said. Young males, like the one that hit the Camry, roam already.

Teneshia Thomas, 16, got the phone call from her mom about the accident. Neighbors drove her to the scene of the accident, and she waited for a tow truck with her family.

Her mom had just gotten the car back from the repair shop that day.

Contact Clare Lennon at clennon@alligator.org

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