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'The bear actually had my wife's head in its mouth ...'

Near Lake Mary.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

Near Lake Mary.

14

April

First Susan Chalfant. Now Terri Frana. Here, though, are 13 things plucked from my earlier bear-related reporting that are worth remembering in the aftermath of this latest attack in Central Florida:

1. Black bear numbers and their wide distribution lead to extensive contact with another widely distributed, numerically successful mammal, human beings.

2. More people are having more opportunities to interact with black bears, which in itself increases the chances of human-black bear interactions and thus the occasional fatal attack.

3. Where are bears most likely to be found? Near their food. ... the more food there is, the greater the chance of a bear being there.

4. Black bear are often drawn into conflict situations with humans after being attracted by people's food or edible garbage.

5. People's food and garbage are so attractive to bears not because bears will "eat anything" but rather because people's food and garbage are so easily converted into calories by bears.

6. The black bear's intense motivation to feed on human foods or garbage has probably set up hundreds of thousands of situations that could have led to human injury, yet only a few did.

7. ... most black bears can become accustomed to people and their foods without endangering human lives.

8. Threat behaviors seldom lead to physical attack by a black bear provided the bear is given the personal space it requires to feel secure.

9. Sudden encounters with black bears, even mothers with cubs, almost never lead to injury ...

10. Is the bear to blame? It is doing nothing more than following a foraging strategy, which, before the introduction of human recreational use of its habitat, was successful for many generations of ancestors.

11. If you have chosen to live surrounded by forest and bears, the outside garbage can should not be used except for nonfood items.

12. If we can learn to live with bears ... and if we can learn to accommodate the needs of bears in their natural environment, then maybe we can also find ways to use the finite resources of our continent and still maintain some of the diversity and natural beauty that were here when Columbus arrived.

13. People's acceptance of some probability of black bear-inflicted injury, even fatal injury, is essential for bear conservation.

[Last modified: Monday, April 14, 2014 10:20am]

    

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