Bear Response Agent Gets Bit...By Bear

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Bear response agents for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are contracted. They do not receive any special training, it's all on-the-job training. Bear response agents are called on a case by case need by the FWC, to get rid of nuisance bears, remove dead bears, and sometimes give advice.

Larry Covell, a bear response agent was called to help with Juanita Brown's bear complaints. Brown had been having issues with bears trying to get to her goats. Brown had installed an electric fence but the bear was not scared off.

Covell was called to help with the bear situation. He set up a trailer culvert trap. The bear was in the trap when Covell returned, but the pin keeping the door to the bait area closed was missing. Covell stuck his hand in one end, and the bear was able to stick his head and paw in the other end grabbing Covell's hand. Brown called 911, deputies and emergency medical team responded. Covell was stabilized and taken to the hospital, and later flown by helicopter to Birmingham Alabama for surgery on his hand. He was treated by neurosurgeons and plastic surgeons for his hand. Since Covell is a contract worker he does not receive state workman's comp or insurance benefits.

The bear was weighed and tagged, and released back into the wild. “In this case, there was no suspicion of rabies,” FWC wildlife biologist Adam Warwick said. “The bear didn’t come running out of the woods and attack someone. This is a case of one of our bear response agents putting a hand in a place he probably shouldn’t have.” From


groovy mike's picture

Well that sux for the unfortunate injured man!

Well that sux for the unfortunate injured man! I hope that the bear learns that that humans are a dangerous thing that will cage and move you to a strange place rather than that humans are a easy prey that offer you easy access to a tasty body part for a snack when they get close to you.  You are right Hunter 25 ANY time when dealing with a wild animal you need to be prepared for it to turn on you.  Let’s hope for the injured agent’s sake that bear response agents for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are very well compensated for the risks that they take.  NO training?  Really?  This is a lawsuit waiting to happen against the state of Florida.  I completely agree that this guy was less than brilliant to insert his hand into a cage occupied by a bear that could be expected to be somewhat agitated under the circumstances, but we all know that we live in a society where a lawsuit for just about anything is not only possible, but likely.  And in cases with severe injury and a deep pocket (read government) party chased for damages juries often side with the injured party.  So in my opinion, someone in the state of Florida was clearly not been thinking ahead when they designed a program which failed to provide even rudimentary training.  There was neglect here not only by the injured man, but by the state of Florida and their program administrators.  Now they have no defense but what ever non-liability clause the Florida state lawyers worked into the bear response agents’ contracts.  This makes me wonder if those guys dealing with nuisance alligators receive any training either?  I sure hope so for their sakes and for the hapless taxpayers in the state of Florida who may get stuck with a multi-million dollar settlement when one of those people gets (God forbid) similarly injured, crippled, maimed, or even eaten! 

hunter25's picture

On the job training is

On the job training is usually billed as being the best way to learn. And I'm sure he learned his lesson very well this time. It sounds thought that for the most part he knew the job and what he was doing just decided not to pay attention to basic safety rules. Any time when dealing with a wild animal you better be prepared for the unexpected. Especially if that animal has teeth and is as powerful as a bear.

I thought it was funny that

I thought it was funny that they don't receive any formal training it is all on the job. So this was probably just a big on the job learning lesson. Poor guy.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Here, let me stick my hand in

Here, let me stick my hand in this door with this big bear.  Ouch!......

I can see the lawsuit now from this guy, because someone had "removed" the pin that held that doo shut.

Tough for him that he's not covered by workman's comp or state health insurange though.  Must have messed up his hand pretty good if he needed a neurosurgeon and a plastic surgeon.