Tuesday, February 04, 2014


In Graphic Form.

FYI, I put in my own address in the interactive page (which I will not share here for "well, DUH" reasons) and got over 10,000 bear encounters, many within walking distance of my house. I do live in 32779, the most bear intensive zip code in the region. It borders the Wekiwa Springs State Park, so again, duh, of course bears live in the park. But they aren't staying put, and they do turn up in amazingly unexpected places lately, and the frequency is definitely increasing. HOAs that have email capability (mine doesn't, but that's a subject for another day) send out "bear sighting" alerts. I got one last week for the neighborhood where my daughter lives - a bear was wandering around on the other side of the lake at 9:30 a.m. Broad daylight. I didn't bother passing it on because I knew they were at work. And this isn't a country kind of suburb, surrounded by farms and on acre lots where people have vegetable gardens or other attractions - this is a densely packed neighborhood, bordered by busy two and four and six lane roads, surrounded by shopping centers.

The standard response is "Overdevelopment. We are moving in on their territory." This was true 30 years ago when the area was being developed, but these are long-established neighborhoods that very rarely saw bears twenty years ago. This is an established area that has lived in harmony with the bears in the park for decades. Something has changed - an increase in the bear population, a decline in the quality of good eating in their usual habitat, something has shifted the balance so that they now feel they need to raid garbage cans and bird feeders. The county is toying with the idea of offering bear proof garbage can subsidies, but I think it would make far more sense to fine people for putting their trash out the night before garbage day. HOAs are all up in arms with people who don't bring IN the garbage cans and leave them at the curb empty after the garbage truck passes, when the real issue is leaving them out the night before, when they are a delightful, surprising bear buffet.

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