NAVARRE — At this time of year, bears are motivated by two things — water and food. And that may explain why a bear nicknamed Mr. Phelps apparently took a dip recently in one of the pools at the Holley by the Sea Recreation Center.
Although no one saw him swimming, they found debris in the pool right after it had been cleaned, as well as wet foot prints, according to general manager April Salazar.
They also watched a video of him unhooking the pool gate and backing out of it.
He was spotted twice in the pool deck enclosure around 8 a.m. on June 20 and June 24. He was not aggressive toward the people who were there at the time, Salazar said.
"We told everybody they needed to get inside," she said.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tried to trap him after the second visit but had no luck, according to an email from FWC spokeswoman Rebekah Nelson.
There are three pools in the enclosure. Named after the famous swimmer Michael Phelps, "Mr. Phelps" chose the large family pool for his early morning swim.
On his second visit, he looked into the windows of the building surrounding the lap pool, but didn't enter.
Salazar, who has been there four years, said the neighborhood next to the rec center has frequent bear complaints, and the critters apparently cross the property regularly.
"We've had to replace fences on the back of the property every year," she said. "They tear them down."