Bear Visit in the Orlando Area

December 26, 2017

Central Florida, Seminole County, Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Markham Woods, Little Wekiva River

Yup, there are black bears around here. Of course, this was their territory long before we humans decided to invade. It seems, though, that the more of the natural world we lose in Central Florida, the more bear/human interaction increases. And sometimes those encounters can turn dangerous.

People mistakenly feed these beautiful creatures and/or don’t take proper precautions by making their garbage cans inaccessible. That may be why at Christmas in 2017 my family and I saw our first direct evidence of a bear visit in our backyard which borders on the Little Wekiva River. We’ve lived in this house for 40 years and only now have we had sort of a “close encounter.”

Using pictures I took at the scene, I’ll take you through what I’ve been able to piece together. And at the end of all that, you’ll find some great informational links, including videos.

So from what I can tell, our visitor was following the river and came up the bank towards our house.

There it encountered our 4 foot high chain link fence. BUT, I had piled a lot of hurricane tree debris just on the other side of the fence, making for an unintended but wonderful bear incline access point. And since the top bar of that fence had been broken by yet another hurricane, our visitor rolled right over the thing. You can see where it was bent.

The bear then ambled into the yard where it evidently ran into a huge tree limb that hurricane Irma had deposited between our house and the side wood fence. I had been waiting to get the limb cut up until after the first of the year when prices went down so I nailed a white rag up there to keep from running into it.

I guess the bear didn’t like the my rag, because we found it on the ground with strings of fabric hanging from the branch.

After that, our visitor walked along a path parallel and close to the house where we have banana plants. There, right in front of the porch door, the bear pushed two of the plants to the ground and shredded one almost completely. We found claw marks all over. It almost looks as if he/it was trying to get at bugs or larvae inside the plant.

Oh, and, a bite had been taken out of a green banana. Only one. I’m thinking ripeness might have something to do with the single nibble.

And on to the next banana plant on another path heading back down towards the river. After flattening that one, our bear grabbed the bird feeder, pulled it to the ground and permanently bent the tall metal rod it was attached to.

The feeder didn’t contain any seed, but obviously our visitor knew about such contraptions and had great expectations. We’re now going to have to reconsider whether or not to keep offering snacks to the small critters if that’ll attract the big ones.

Hmmm. Guess I need to be a bit more wary going out in the back yard at night. That’s a new one after living here so long but . . .

Here’s the promised info:

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission – overview of FL Black Bears

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission – Bear Habitats map

Interactive map – Central Florida siting locations

The path of destruction

Videos

Bears in a local swimming pool

Florida black bears on the move

Man chases bear out of garage

 

 

 

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