Black Bears in Florida

Lately, the Florida Black Bear has been rather frequent in the news and it is time to get some facts straight about the animal. For over twenty years the black bear hunt has been made illegal to allow for the endangered animal to rejuvenate. In the past few years, however, more and more complaints have been coming in about black bear nuisances in residential neighborhoods. In 2005, the number of complaints was just under 2,000, and just last year that number rose to over 6,000 according to the Tampa Bay Times. This increase is due in large part because the population growth of humans, causing the growth of more developments which, in turn, takes away from the bears’ habitat.

The Black bear is a smart bear, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife; so smart in fact, they are lazy by choice. Black bears eat over 5,000 calories of food a day, which means most of their day is spent hunting and foraging in the woods. A black bear can smell food over a mile away, and because they quickly learned to associate people with food, they have become more attracted to the garbage we throw out. This makes the bear lazy because while they could choose to forage the woods for fruits and berries all day, they would rather intake their 5,000-calorie meals in one sitting. Garbage has become the biggest bear attractant in the state of Florida and it is the main reason bear encounters with humans have become more “aggressive.” In the past ten years there has only been 4 attacks on humans in Florida, and in each of those attacks someone had left trashcans out unsecured which attracted the bears’ attention.

Bears are predominately non-aggressive, and in most encounters with humans the bears was either defending themselves, their cubs, or their food source. The Florida Fish and Wildlife have a few suggestions for people if they want to be “bear smart” and the list includes: building a shed around your garbage cans, putting up an electric fence around livestock or beeyards, and never feeding the wild bear. The most helpful thing you can do is put your trashcans out the morning of pickup instead of the night before. If you do come in contact with a bear, it is best not to run because that will trigger the bears’ instinct to chase, instead, you should make sure the bear has a clear exit, and then scare it by yelling in an assertive voice, honking your horn, or banging pots and pans according to the FF&W. It is also a common myth to play dead, because after all, bears eat dead animals.

While it may have been the law in Florida that it is illegal to shoot a black bear, unless to protect human life, the new controversy regarding hunting has some people in a frenzy. The bear hunt is said to control the bear population; yet, there is no proof that it will do just that. The hunt is scheduled for a week in October where anywhere from 100 to 5,000 people may show up to participate. A Tampa Bay Times contributor says there is no way to control the bear population with this hunt unless it is opened up to subdivisions “where the bear problem is.” There is also no way of knowing how many bears will be killed, and if that will affect the number of bears running from the woods and into more subdivisions.

 

Pet Safety During July 4th

 

 

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People associate loud noises, flashes, and big bangs with celebrations, but pets do not. For this reason, July 5th is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters according to the American Humane Association. Many people who leave their pets at home while they are out celebrating forget to close opens doors, gates, or windows which causes many scared pets to run away and flee. Many of these scared pets end up lost, injured, or killed due to the high stress of the Holiday. It may seem obvious but here is a list of things you can do to be sure your pet is safe this holiday season.

  • Bring your pet inside and keep them indoors at all times
  • Don’t put insect repellant on your pet that isn’t pet friendly
  • If traveling to a fireworks display, leave your pet at home and not in the car
  • Have your pet properly identified in case they get lost
  • Keep your pet away from glow in the dark sticks or other festive ornaments they might chew
  • Never use fireworks around pets
  • Don’t over-feed your pet or give them table food
  • Never leave alcohol unattended where pets can reach them
  • Close the blinds and curtains so they can’t see the lights
  • Leave on a fan, TV, or radio to block out the outside noise
  • Distract your pet with a lot of toys

There are over 63% of lost pets euthanized each year at animal shelters because they could not be properly identified and returned to their owners. The Thomas Nicholl Law Firm encourages everyone to please keep your pets safe this holiday season, because even if they do not fear thunder, fireworks can be really terrifying for a pet!

Safety for the 4th of July

As 4th of July approaches, many Florida residents will take to the water to celebrate and this means more boating related injuries. Florida leads the nation in the number of registered boat owners totaling 899,635 per the latest reports.

Florida also leads the nation in the number of boating fatalities. Drugs and alcohol played a role in 15% of deaths last year alone.  Of the 73 deaths and 365 injuries that occurred just last year on the water (down from 420 in 2013)- Volusia county ranked in the top 10 counties.

Boaters falling overboard and drowning is the leading cause of death among boaters.

Safe boating is a choice and currently the “Wear It Florida” campaign is encouraging boat safety by promoting life jacket use whenever boaters are on the water.

As long as the boat’s pilot is not impaired, it is perfectly legal to drink alcohol while boating in Florida.

If you plan to enjoy the water this summer Thomas Nicholl Law Firm encourages you to stay safe and eliminate boating under the influence-related accidents.

If you plan to go boating this summer here are a few safety tips from the Florida Fish and Wildlife:

  • Always be weather-wise
  • Use common sense
  • Designate an assistant skipper
  • Float plan- let family or others know of your itinerary
  • Have enough life jackets and wear them!
  • Consider a FREE vessel safety check from the US Coast Guard
  • Learn to swim

 

If boating with pets always keep fresh drinking water available, provide a shaded area, and protect their feet as well as keep a pet lifejacket available.

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