Published: Jun 30, 2011 7:52 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 30, 2011 6:55 PM EDT

SANIBEL, Fla.- On Monday, June 2, at 5:30am the J.N 'Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge remote camera capture an image of a Florida Black Bear on the refuge. Lead Biologist, Tara Wertz discovered and verified the sighting today. The bear looks to be a sub-adult black bear, approximately 1.5 years of age and weighing 40 to 60 pounds. This bear was photographed by a motion activated, infrared camera at the Bailey Tract, 100-acre freshwater satellite parcel of the refuge. This poses no immediate threat, but residents and visitors should take precautionary measures to keep all food and garbage secured and stored inside.

Black bears are native to Florida and are protected under state and federal laws. Dwindling populations in Florida has caused this sub species to be listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to approach or harass this animal. Sub-adult black bears are kicked out by their mother in early summer at age 1.5 years old. Young males tend to disperse long distances from their natal areas while young females tend to stay close to their mother's home ranges. Bears are most active at night and are opportunistic feeders, eating almost anything, including grass, insects, small mammals and carrion (or dead things).

The public is asked to report any sightings to the refuge's Lead Biologist Tara Wertz at 239/ 472-1100, extension 231.