The 320-pound male bear was found dead Wednesday morning in the parking lot of the Guest Lake boat ramp south of Interstate 10 near Holt.
Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission began seeking information about the people involved later that day, said FWC spokesman Stan Kirkland.
“We’ve had very few calls on it,” he said. “(But) they’ve interviewed quite a number of people.”
The bear likely was killed late Tuesday night or early Wednesday, Kirkland said. A necropsy revealed the bear had been shot at close range with buckshot, Kirkland said.
The bear also had an injured left front leg, likely from when it had been struck by a vehicle, he said.
FWC officer Alan Kirchinger said his agency believes the bear was killed at another location and taken to the parking lot. Three or four people probably were involved.
About a half-dozen bears have been shot in Northwest Florida in the last week or so, according to the FWC. A hunter alerted the FWC earlier this week after he mistook a bear for wild boar and shot it, Kirkland said.
Authorities earlier this month decided not to file charges against Gregory A. Gilligan of Fort Walton Beach after he shot and wounding a black bear on his property Nov. 18. Gilligan told officials he shot the black bear with a .410 shotgun after it charged him.
Kirkland encouraged residents to take precautions to discourage bears from taking up residence near their homes. That includes properly securing garbage cans to keep bears from getting in them.
Anyone with information about the most recent bear shooting is urged to contact the Wildlife Alert Reward Program hotline at 888-404-3922. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 if the information leads to an arrest.
It is a crime to kill a Florida black bear. Punishment can include up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.