A Lake County man fought off a bear that attacked him in a mobile-home park Thursday night near Sorrento in Lake County, his wife said.
But Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials could not immediately verify that account.
They were searching with flashlights late Thursday for bear tracks and signs of a struggle in Oak Springs mobile-home park east of Mount Plymouth Road.
They also put a bear trap near where the attack was reported, but they did not bait or set it.
"We don't really know what happened yet," agency spokesman Greg Workman said.
Josh Hennessy, 36, was sitting in a folding chair under an awning outside his father's mobile home sometime before 9:30 p.m. when he heard rustling in the bushes. He walked around the corner and the bear attacked, dragging him to the street, said his wife, Courtney Allstead-Hennessy, 33.
"I guess he startled it," she said.
Hennessy had bite marks on his side and road rash from rolling on the pavement while trying to fight off the animal, his wife said. The couple have been living in the community with his father for less than a month.
Hennessy's father, Rick Hennessy, 59, drove him to a hospital, where he was being treated early Friday, Allstead-Hennessy said.
Resident Mike Henslee said he was not surprised that someone might have been attacked. At least four bears live near the neighborhood, and "a bunch of idiots out here" feed them so they can take pictures, he said.
"We see bears here all the time," Henslee said. "A big boy was in our garbage two nights ago."
If confirmed, the attack would be the second in Central Florida since December, when a Seminole County woman was seriously hurt in the worst recorded mauling in state history. Susan Chalfant, 54, was walking her dogs near Longwood Dec. 2 when a mother bear, accompanied by her cubs, bit her on the head, face and neck.
The mauling happened amid a spike in bear-nuisance complaints in Central Florida and led wildlife officials to ask the Legislature for more money to tackle the problem. Florida's bear hotline had 6,700 complaints in 2013, the most ever. The bulk came from Central Florida.
Bears have been spotted in or near Apopka, Lake Mary, Umatilla, DeLand and DeBary. Shy by nature, they have become bolder in neighborhoods where they have found trash, pet food and birdseed to eat.
A day before the Lake County incident, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it would begin meeting with the public next week to discuss its bear-management strategy.
The first meeting will be Tuesday at Markham Woods Church, 505 Markham Woods Road near Longwood from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Meetings also are scheduled Thursday at Olde Mill Stream RV Resort, 1000 N. Central Ave., Umatilla, and March 18 at DeLand City Hall, 120 S. Florida Ave.