Varmint of the Month: The Florida Black Bear

Posted 12/1/2020

“Someone’s been sleeping in my yard” 

The population of people is not the only thing in Florida that is booming, the black bear population is too. As the number of black bears increases in the state, the land for them to explore is decreasing. The result… black bears roaming into yards, searching for that missing picnic basket. That is why they are our pick for Varmint of the Month.

The Florida Black Bear is a magnificent creature to say the least. They have hearing twice as good as humans and can pick up a scent from over a mile away. That is a pretty good reason as to why they come running when I drag my garbage can to the end of the driveway. They not only hear the ‘breakfast bell’ ringing, but they can also smell the lingering of last night’s dinner. Catcher Dan and I actually live IN bear country, I’m convinced this is where the bears come home to. If they are not turning over our grill to lick the drippings and sleeping in our backyard, then they are tearing down the bird feeder to get to the seed. We understand the bears were here first, so we just take precautions that other people might not have to do. For instance, scanning the yard through the window before opening the door. Walking in our back yard can sometimes be considered a walk on the wild side. Bears will roam for miles in search for food, so spotting them closer in town is not unheard of either. Although they look like slow moving creatures, they can pick up speed to 35 MPH, much faster than I can run! They walk flat footed, so it’s easy to point out their paw print on our dirt road. Well I’m not sure if Goldie Locks is the person to take bear tips from, but here are some helpful hints in living with black bears;

  • Do NOT feed the bears. This goes for all wildlife. When a wild animal becomes dependent on food that is given to them, they are no longer wild, and are not afraid of humans. They become a nuisance, and are less likely to survive. Not good for the humans or the bears.
  • Do NOT panic. Although it might be exciting to see a bear in the wild, try not to scream. Stay standing, speak calmly, and move slowly away giving the bear an exit to run away from you. Don’t stare him down, no need to poke the bear. If he seems irritated, stay still. Do not run away, play dead or climb a tree. Bears can climb trees too.
  • Secure all food sources. Bears love garbage cans, pet food, livestock feed, bird feeders and grills. It’s a good idea to make sure all of these items are on lock down. If the attractants are gone, the bears will be too.
  • Respect the bear. Remember they were here first, but we are sharing our living space. If you see a bear in the wild, give them space, and watch from afar. Snap a few pictures, and let them move along.

Not everyone in Florida is going to run into a black bear, but keep an eye out next time you go on that family camping trip or take a drive through Golden Gate Estates. The bears are out there, and they are in route to find the perfect porridge.

Signing off for now, 

Goldie Locks 

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