From Orlando Sentinel MIAMI - A black bear struck by a car on Florida's Turnpike three days ago was returned to the wild and released Thursday afternoon despite having two broken legs and a large open wound in its rear flank.
The decision to truck the young, 200-pound male to Picayune Strand in Big Cypress National Preserve was made by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials after the animal was examined by a veterinary surgeon in Miami.
"Our policy is to let it recover on its own," wildlife commission spokesman Jorge Pino said. "We did what we could do. Now it's time for it to fend for itself." The bear was struck near U.S. Highway 27. The bear had been spotted earlier that day eating cattle feed nearby, according to Lt. Pat Reynolds, a wildlife officer.
Officials decided against trying to pin the fractures.
"We want the bear to know he's injured," said Mike Orlando, biologist and assistant coordinator for the wildlife commission's bear program. "If we put pins in to fix the fracture, he'll think the leg is functional and . . . five, 10 days later he will re-break it.
"Bears are extremely resilient. They get hit by cars all the time, and a ton of them survive," said Orlando.
Orlando said that the bear was likely to hibernate. He gauged this animal's chances of recovery as "excellent."
In 2008, Orlando said, 165 bears were killed on Florida roads.