Andy Meunier was taking his dog for a walk outside his house in Naples when a bear attacked him.
Moments after leaving his Naples home to let his dog out, Andy Meunier turned to see a black bear staring at him. Without warning, the bear attacked.
“Everything went in slow motion,” Meunier said. “It was just as scary as you can imagine. It was standing in front of me and I tried to turn left real quick and get back in the house, and caught an uppercut from a brown or a black bear.
Though the bear knocked him down, he managed to escape back into his house before the bear could seriously injure him. Even so, he suffered a pretty severe cut on the side of his head that required 41 stitches.
While black bears are not at all rare in Florida (which is why the state had a special bear hunt back in 2015), they aren’t very common in the southern part of the state. Even so, Meunier said this wasn’t the first bear he’s seen in his neighborhood
State records on bear attacks go back to 1976, and this is the first recorded instance of a bear attacking a person in South Florida. All 15 other recorded instances occurred in the panhandle or in central Florida.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission attempted to trap and euthanize the bear responsible for the attack.
While most Florida residents probably aren’t at the point where they need to be carrying bear-defense guns with them all the time, the FWC has a couple pieces of good advice for locals in the case of an encounter:
- Remain standing upright
- Speak to the bear in a calm, assertive voice
- Back up slowly toward a secure area, be sure you are leaving the bear a clear escape route
- Avoid direct eye contact—bears and other animals may view this as aggressive behavior
- Stop and hold your ground if your movement away seems to irritate instead of calm the bear
- Make any sudden or abrupt movements
- Run—running can trigger a chase instinct and bears can sprint up to 35 mph
- Play dead—black bears eat things that play dead or are dead
- Climb a tree—black bears can climb 100 feet up a tree in 30 seconds
- Approach or surprise a bear, especially one that may be injured