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A Longwood, Florida man who was clawed in the face by a black bear at his home on Dec. 10...

now also faces criminal charges for feeding bears.

Ernest D. Stamm, 49, a resident of The Springs – a 400-acre gated community just north of Orlando near Wekiwa Springs State Park – reported something struck him in the face and knocked him down as he opened his front door around 8 p.m. on Dec. 10.

When EMTs arrived, they were unable to immediately get to Stamm’s front door because of a bear that wouldn’t leave the yard. Eventually the bear left, and Stamm was taken to Florida Hospital Altamonte, where he was treated and released with lacerations to his face.

Biologists who examined photos of the man’s injuries determined the scratches were consistent with marks made by bear claws.

When FWC investigators arrived at Stamm’s home, they found ample evidence of food attractants and bear signs around the home, including scratches on structures and bear scat, indicating a bear being fed for an extended period of time. Photographs taken at the scene show food containers scattered around the area, as well as bedding on the porch.

After a week-long investigation by the FWC, the state attorney agreed to pursue charges against Stamm for feeding bears. His mandatory court appearance is set for Jan. 22 in Seminole County Court. Stamm was fully cooperative when FWC Officer Steve McDaniel issued him the notice to appear in court at his home Dec. 17.

According to Florida law, it is illegal to intentionally place food or garbage, allow the placement of food or garbage, or offer food or garbage in such a manner that it attracts black bears, foxes or raccoons, and in a manner that it is likely to create or creates a public nuisance.

Many communities in Florida are in ideal bear habitat, and bears naturally wander into neighborhoods in search of food or new territory, but generally, they stay only if they find a consistent source of food that is easy to obtain – such as garbage, birdseed, pet food and other human-provided goodies.

According to the FWC, the female bear suspected of injuring Stamm was captured in a trap within hours and had to be euthanized by biologists.

Two cubs were deemed old enough to survive, although ideally they would have remained with her for another six months.

“Bears are more of a threat when they become habituated to humans and lose their natural fear. That is why feeding bears, either intentionally or unintentionally, is illegal,” said Joy Hill, FWC public information coordinator.

“This sad situation could have been prevented if the bear had been allowed to remain wild,” said Dave Telesco, FWC’s Bear Management Program coordinator.

“Unfortunately, once bears become used to humans and food they provide, they become bold and unafraid of people, leading to situations like this.”