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Are Black Bear Incidents On The Rise?
DECEMBER 26, 2013.
The featured photo at the top of this page was taken by myself (Don Johnson) on December 18, 2013. These three bears were playing in the backyard. Yes, playing. It is not unusual at all to see the bears coming through the yard, which sits on 5 acres in Seminole Estates in NW Sanford.
I have personally encountered the bears on four separate occasions. In fact just this past Summer of 2013 a bear walked into the garage where I was working out. Instead of fearing for my life I let the bear know it was not welcome in those quarters and told it “to get”. The bear simply looked at me, I then said “now git” and it walked away. Could it have been worse? Yes, certainly. The bear smelled the trash can inside the garage. It was a Thursday, our trash day – except it was in the evening after trash had been picked up that day.
What this tells us is that they “know” when our trash days are and when to be on the lookout for easy food.
Handling Black Bear Encounters
First, it is important to realize that chances are good you could not outrun the bear if it was determined to catch you. They are big and powerful, even the cubs. Each time I’ve been near face to face I simply remind them I mean no harm and they need to “get”. This phrase for some reason for me works everytime (or maybe it’s that I’m a multi-generational Floridian and they sense my love and respect for them). Unless I move I am always going to be in “their” territory. So it is up to me to know how to act. They are bears and believe it or not they don’t talk to the Ranger asking for picinick baskets. :p
Do not show fear. Do not be hostile or aggressive. Be calming and speak to them with authority, just like a dog running at you. Do not ever under any circumstances leave food out for them. Do not attempt to pet them – that should be commonsense. Do not run if you see a mom and her cubs (think predator/prey). Do not confront them unless you simply are left no choice, such as when the bear came inside the garage – I had no where to go at all and was left to either tell it to get or chance it wanting to explore that can and get mad because I was there – so I challenged it to “get”.
Be sure to put garbage out that day for the trash trucks. Usually I wait until 9 or so because they don’t get out this way until later, and if I miss them on one day I just do it the next pickup day. This allows them to get into the neighbors instead of mine for one, and since then they probably already made their morning rounds my garbage is “usually” (not always hehee) safe from scavenging.
Use cans that are harder for them to open. It discourages them since they are opportunists and don’t want to stick around and chance running into someone. That by the way tells me they are scared of us and that attacks are probably a fright response and not an attack of malice. If there are cubs, get inside or stay away as far back as possible. She will charge if she feels threatened.
Euthanization Of The Bears
Recently a woman in Longwood, in the Markham Woods area was attacked while walking her dog. In an attempt to catch the “culprit bear”, wildlife management euthanized a couple of bears that were not the responsible bear. They did finally find her and removed her and her cubs to Busch Gardens in Tampa Florida. So why kill the bears that did not hurt the woman and spare the one that did?
That type of response angers this writer since I see it with the alligator populations as well. Educating the public is the key, not killing innocent wildlife that is in it’s traditional and ancestral lands. We are in their homes, not the other way around. I’ve yet to receive one single piece of literature regarding bears in my area and as the picture shows three that day were frolicking in the backyard.
We tend to over react in an attempt to just a wrong. Again, the bear is not wrong. It does not know that we do not know about them as we should and when they do attack it is normally a defensive action, not malicious.
We need an awareness campaign before we put our bears in peril and then these beautiful and magnificent creatures of this earth will be forever gone. Begin reading about them and their habitats. Respect that they are here and that it is their home. Just like swimming in ANY body of water in Florida, chances are there is an alligator. Be knowledgeable of their habits and appetites. Bears and alligators are not fond of human meat and therefore we are not on their wishlist for dinner.
Florida has many types of wildlife and we must learn to respect it or we will someday lose it altogether. As I stated before, I am a native Floridian and Orlandoan. I grew up with gators, snakes, panthers and bears in the near midst. It is my job as the superior intellect to know of those creatures, they only know how to protect and eat what they believe to be a meal.
Please join me and help to save our Florida natural resources. Water, air, wildlife and the beautiful Florida Black Bear.
SOURCE: Original article by MORE Realty Services LLC Broker Donald E Johnson
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