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Resource ID: #26106
Bears are cute until they break into your home, or destroy your porch, or attack your dog, or attack you. Oddly, the people of Metro Orlando had come to terms with living with bears a long time ago as the animals occasionally emerged from nearby forests to wander suburban and urban neighborhoods. But in the past three to five years the incidents have become far more common -- and far more commonly terrifying -- as more and bolder bears blurred the frontier between forests and the city. The Orlando Sentinel looked into it, assigning projects reporter Scott Powers and local government reporter Stephen Hudak. By obtaining and analyzing state bear complaint data, they discovered the Orlando area is far and away the worst in Florida for bear-human encounters -- and the encounters have indeed been rapidly increasing. The number of such complaints more than doubled from 2008 to 2013, after having doubled between 2003 and 2008. Beyond that, Hudak and Powers set out to tell the stories of people living with bears. In particular, they found one large suburban area in the northwest part of the metropolis was experiencing so many bear encounters that residents said they rarely called them in anymore, unless the bears caused real trouble. Bears would ravage garbage cans, steal the dog's food, pick fruit trees clean, and sneak into garages and kitchens to raid freezers and pantries. While there were no reports on record of bears ever killing humans in Florida, and injury reports were rare, all too often, they also would destroy property and terrorize humans and their pets.