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COUNTY: Hillsborough County
LOCATION DETAILS: can't remember.....just off the little manatee river in ruskin
NEAREST TOWN: Ruskin
NEAREST ROAD: US 41
OBSERVED: At the time I was only about 9 years old, and my friend was going on a camping trip over in ruskin, fl. it was a weekend excersion just off the Little Manatee River. the first night we just herd funny screems that sounded like it was coming from down river. Not sure what it was so my friends dad loaded me and my friend in the boat and we went to see what it was. We thought someone was in trouble or some thing. We went down river but saw and herd nothing ant thought nothing more about it. THe next night about 2 or 3 a.m. i smelt a God awful oder that woke me up out of a dead sleep. I thought a skunk had invaded our camp (not uncommon in Florida).Slowly I grabbed my flashlight and tured it on. As soon as i clicked the button i herd some thing run through the palm palms, when I shined the light up I saw the upper back and head of a large animal running away. It happend so quik that it was a blurr, but i do know that the hair was a dark brown or black color. I hope this helps you in your search.
OTHER WITNESSES: 3.......but were sleeping, and told me that i was dreaming
TIME AND CONDITIONS: at night under clear skys
ENVIRONMENT: swamp like area.....40 feet from a river
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Linda Jacobson:
From Interview with witness via e-mail;
Witness stated that the smell which initially woke him was:
"like a very strong body odor, and rotten vegetables combined".
When he first observed it moving away he stated that:
"It scared him to the point he couldn't move or say anything".
The witness did know the difference between a bear at the time and what he observed stating that: "A bear has ears on the top of its head, and even from behind a bear's ears are
very noticeable. What I saw had no ears, and was about 6'5". I know this because my friends dad is 6' even".
He further stated that: "The arms hung unusually low, almost to the knees. When a bear stands on two feet, his front legs hang in front of him, not besides him".
The witness further stated that there were screams that sounded like: "a cross between a chimp scream and a dog howl (from what I can remember.)". They did fish at the location they camped at. "Throwing the fish guts along side the river".
About BFRO Investigator Linda Jacobson: