Individual charged in bear case in Highlands County 

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

(Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.)

For immediate release: Nov. 30, 2021
Media contacts: Melody Kilborn, 863-227-3830,
                          Shannon Knowles, 850-617-9666,

 Suggested Tweet: Bear case in #HighlandsCounty results in multiple charges. #Florida #Crime 

Individual charged in bear case in Highlands County 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has concluded an investigation regarding a report of a Florida black bear and cub having been shot and killed within the Sun ‘n Lake community in Sebring, Highlands County. The investigation resulted in John Falango, age 43, of Sebring, Florida being charged with the following: 

  • 379.4041 – Unlawful taking of bear during closed season - first-degree misdemeanor, four counts.
  • 379.401(2)a/ 68A-4.009 – Take/attempt to take black bear without authorization or permit - second-degree misdemeanor, four counts.
  • 379.401(2)a/ 68A-12.002(7) – Take/attempt to take bear cub or bear with one or more bear cubs - second-degree misdemeanor, four counts.
  • 379.401(2)a/ 68a-12.002(3)(b)3 – Take/attempt to take bear by illegal method - second-degree misdemeanor, four counts. 

This case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office for the 10th Judicial Circuit.  

“Our officers work tirelessly to protect Florida’s natural resources and this egregious violation serves as a reminder of why our work is so important,” said Col. Roger Young, FWC Division of Law Enforcement. “The deliberate shooting of these two bears is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.” 

On October 26, 2021, FWC officers and biologists responded to the scene and found that one adult female bear and one cub had been shot and killed at this location. FWC biologists were able to successfully trap one uninjured cub after arriving on scene. The uninjured cub was transported out of the area and safely released into a more suitable habitat. Based on the size and overall health of the cub, FWC biologists determined that it met the criteria for release without any additional human intervention. One additional cub was seen in the immediate area but trapping efforts were unsuccessful and this cub was not relocated. 

“I greatly appreciate the efforts of our law enforcement officers and biologists who worked diligently on this case,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. “The FWC provides numerous resources and information to the public on how to coexist with bears in Florida, therefore making this heinous act unacceptable.” 

If you witness illegal activity related to wildlife, you can report it anonymously to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. For information about Florida black bears and how to avoid conflicts, visit The FWC also provides helpful resources and tips through the Guide to Living in Bear Country.

Bookmark and Share