An Okaloosa County sheriff’s deputy responding to a call before dawn on December 5 got a shock when she found not the typical Florida black bears, but two brown Kodiak bear cubs who had apparently escaped from an inadequate enclosure.
- The cubs — petite as far as Kodiaks go at an estimated 30 pounds each — were spotted about 3:30 a.m. sitting by Old River Road, according to the OCSO. A passerby who’d stopped thought they were in distress.
Wildlife officers determined the cubs had escaped from a nearby property where a self-proclaimed bear trainer lives. The resident, who was not immediately identified, faces multiple charges related to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission investigation findings, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
Native to Alaska’s Kodiak Archipelago, Kodiak bears are a unique brown bear subspecies isolated from others for about 12,000 years. They are the largest bear species — an adult male can weigh up to 1,500 pounds and stand more than 10 feet tall on hind legs.
The cubs — likely born in 2022 — will remain at an undisclosed secure location while the investigation continues, wildlife officials said. the Sheriff’s Office said they appeared healthy and friendly when discovered along the roadside.
- Their owner will face state and likely federal charges related to possessing wildlife, said the OCSO. Further details were not immediately available.