PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - Neighbors were startled by a rare and unwelcome visitor early Monday morning.
According to the Punta Gorda Police Department, a black bear was spotted by the Charlotte County Justice Center. Police officers followed the bear in their patrol cars as it meandered through an east Punta Gorda neighborhood, until it ran away.
Barbara Anthony-Doby told WINK News she was outside because she was unable to sleep, when a she saw police cars driving up and down her street. In a police dashboard camera video obtained exclusively by WINK News, an officer is heard telling Anthony-Doby to go inside because the bear was in her backyard.
"I ran inside. And then I looked -- (police) came around and I peeked out of my kitchen windows, and they were shining their lights, and then I saw it," Anthony-Doby said. "I was like, 'Oh my God! It's a bear!'
"I just stood there, and I watched, and I watched, and I watched. He would dive in the bushes and come back out."
Captain Tom Lewis with the Punta Gorda Police Department says bears are extremely rare in Punta Gorda, and that the last time officers responded to a bear sighting was more than a year ago.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says it contacted a biologist to track the bear.