A man from Seminole County Fla. who fed a wild bear and was slapped in the face by the animal was given a fine by the county according to The Orlando Sentinel .
Forty-nine-year-old Ernest Stamm went to court Tuesday and pleaded no contest to the charges of feeding wildlife. Stamm claims he had left food out for local cats in his neighborhood and will not admit to intending to feed bears or breaking any law.
The judge fined Stamm $200 and six months of probation. Stamm also will make a $250 contribution to a wildlife fund according to the newspaper .
Stamm claims last December that after hearing scratching outside, he opened his front door and was greeted by a bear eating the food Stamm intended for the cats. He told authorities that he then felt something swipe him across the face.
When authorities arrived after Stamm made the emergency call, they found a black bear in the yard. Stamm had multiple cuts on his face and was taken to the hospital to be treated.
Defense Attorney David Oliver said, “I don’t think anyone had any evidence, any eyewitness accounts of Mr. Stamm actually feeding bears, but he’s clearly learned it’s dangerous to have bears in that type of proximity that have lost their fear of humans,” reports WBBH-TV .
The Sentinel reports that Florida Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Joy Hill told investigators that neighbors witnessed Stamm interacting with bears in the area.
“Pet food, pizza boxes, garbage cans, baby diapers, even grills. If you’re going to grill outside and you live in bear country, you have to clean those if you live in bear country,” Hill said.
Hill explained that it’s a misdemeanor to feed wildlife whether it’s intentional or unintentional. It brings danger to the surrounding area because the animals lose their fear of humans.
Officials of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission ended up capturing the bear and euthanizing it which upset many of Stamm’s neighbors.
The black bear was a female who had two cubs that were old enough to fend for themselves according to the Commission .