Alligators on a golf course, bears in any neighbor’s hot tub, sharks that come to shore and panic erupts, pythons that appear in the toilet, all this is possible in Florida, one of the US states. where encounters with wild animals are more common and deadlier.
According to Outforia, a digital medium about nature and adventures that has just published a complete report on the subject, Between 2009 and 2019, 247 people died in accidents with animals in Florida, a figure only surpassed by Texas (520) and California (299).
Carl Borg, founder and strategist of Outforia, tells Efe that although they do not have information on the causes of each death included in the report, they do have data that indicates that the majority of human deaths caused by animals were due to “bites or blows by mammals”.
Among the deaths recorded are those produced in vehicle collisions with animals, such as the one that occurred in March 2021 on a highway in central Florida near a National Park in which a motorcyclist and the bear he collided with died.
Watch out for the bear
The brown bear is the wild animal that more people’s lives (70) has been claimed in the United States since 1970, according to a classification by Outforia.
Sharks follow (57 deaths), snakes in general (57), black bears (54), alligators (33), pumas (16), polar bears (10) and wolves (2).
Borg points out that although it may seem logical to judge the dangerousness of an animal by the number of “attacks”, it is not if one takes into account that “coming into contact with wasps, bees and hornets is very dangerous and there are very few ways to avoid it. “
However, the report makes it clear that you have to watch out for bears, whatever their color.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) knows this and that is why they just published a manual with recommendations for the fall, which is when the black bear moves the most in search of food.
“Each fall bears start to eat more calories to accumulate fat for the winter. In the autumn season they need about 20,000 calories a day and they will eat whatever they have on hand, including what you have thrown away, “warns FWC.
The first recommendation to those who live in places where there are bears is to put the garbage cans in good shelter, pet food containers and bird feeders or other objects that may attract a bear to your home.
Trash cans are very popular with bears, as evidenced by the many videos and photos on the internet of them trying to lift their lids or feasting.
In those containers they find more calories and in much less time that if they will look for them in the forests.
Before they didn’t have that option, but now humans are getting closer and closer or even within the habitat of bears.
To a question from Efe about whether the invasion of the habitat of species such as bears may have increased the number of attacks, the founder of Outforia replies that they do not have concrete data, but it is logical to think that if you are closer to the beasts, there are more chances of meeting them.
Borg stresses that, without knowing the cause of each death listed in the report, it is difficult to establish if an animal attack on a person has been provoked.
“The only way to do it would perhaps be to know where the attack occurred. For example, if a person is attacked by a bear in their garden, it would be unlikely that it would have been provoked,” he adds.
An avid explorer in his spare time, Borg has some expert advice on what to do with a dangerous animal. The key is knowing whether to stay calm or fight back.
“Being attacked by an animal is a terrifying but very real threat when you go on adventures in North America … my main advice is to be prepared,” he stresses in the report.
Know the difference between a brown bear and a black bear, for example, it could save a person’s life.
When you feel threatened by a black bear, you should make yourself as big as possible, raise your arms above your head and make a lot of noise, while with a brown bear you should remain extremely calm, take the bear spray and spray it, says Borg.
With aquatic animals such as sharks, erratic swimming should be avoided, as this can attract it and if they attack you, you should punch them with your fists or feet to their eyes and gills.
In the case of alligators, Borg’s advice is avoid swampy rivers. If they attack you, fight back immediately and do not resist being knocked over, as you will break a bone, he emphasizes.