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Florida wildlife agents help bear cub shake head free from cheese-ball jar

October 5, 2018

Florida wildlife officials released a video recently showing the cub with its head wedged in a cheese-ball container, probably in a desperate effort to lick the last specks of cheese dust from the bottom of a snack receptacle it found in Astor, Fla.

A giant jar of Herr’s Cheese Balls, while a tempting snack to some, probably isn’t a healthy choice for anyone. But the jar could have been deadly for a Florida black bear cub that got its head stuck inside the 26-ounce plastic container.

State wildlife officials released a video recently showing the cub with its head wedged in a cheese-ball container, probably in a desperate effort to lick the last specks of cheese dust from the bottom of a snack receptacle it found in Astor, Fla.

Bears are common in the small Lake County community on the west side of the St. Johns River.

A woman who saw the distressed cub in a neighbor’s yard called the state’s nuisance-bear hotline Sept. 23, and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission dispatched an on-call wildlife biologist and a bear contractor to help.

The wildlife agents immediately trapped an adult bear but spent several hours trying to catch the cub and a sibling.

Once they coaxed the cub into a cage, they used a device to hold the cheese-ball container while the cub pulled its head loose using its paws.

In the video, the wildlife agents can be heard cheering when the bear’s head is free.

FWC used the cub’s ordeal to spread a message on its Facebook page for residents in bear areas, especially Lake, Orange and Seminole counties, some of Florida’s densest bear corridors: “Stash your trash!”

“Please help bears avoid dangerous situations like this by securing your trash and make sure to rinse out recyclables,” FWC said on Facebook. “This will also help keep you and your neighbors safe.”

“The plastic jar could have been fatal for the cub,” the wildlife agency explained on its social-media post.

The biologist and his crew released all three bears back into the wild.

FWC pointed out Florida bears become most active in October and November while searching for food in preparation for winter. Reports of nuisance bears spike at this time of year with the animals in neighborhoods, often rummaging through curbside trash cans, wandering into open garages or raiding bird-feeders and outdoor pet bowls.

For more information on living in bear country, visit www.MyFWC.com/Bear.

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