A Florida woman recovering from an attack by a black bear in her garage over the weekend is thankful to be alive. But was it the bear's fault?
Terri Frana, 44, needed 30 staples in her scalp and 10 stitches in her forehead after a 200-pound bear attacked her on Saturday in Lake Mary, Fla., a suburb of Orlando.
“I can't close my eyes and not think about it, see it, feel it, but that will go away in time and I'm here,’’ Frana told NBC News. “I'm here for my kids."
Historically, bears in Florida are not known to attack humans. A December incident in which a woman was mauled by a bear near Wekiva Springs State Park is the most serious to date.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission faced public outcry when it euthanized two bears caught in traps after the Wekiva attack. Those bears were killed even though their DNA tests revealed neither was involved in the mauling.
It is springtime; the bears are hungry and simply looking for food. Since humans have encroached upon their habitat leaving their food sources nearly diminished, it is only logical that they go to places where they might find food. It is a well known fact that the residents near Mary, Florida, have been feeding the bears, making them more likely to come into neighborhoods in search of food. Bears are not normally aggressive, unless provoked or frightened.
FWC issued a warning to residents, to allow them plenty of time to prepare for their visitation, i.e., leaving trash cans covered, not leaving garage doors open where trash can be accessed, keeping children close to home, etc.
However, Florida wildlife officials said on Monday they have killed five bears after this woman was attacked.
Terri's husband, Frank Frana, said his wife was sitting on the back porch at about 7:45 p.m. when she noticed a pair of bears running in the area. She was concerned because two of her children, 10 and 11, had just ridden to a neighbor's home on their bikes, so she went to check on them.
When she got to the garage, "she noticed five bears going through garbage that they had pulled out of the garage," Frana said. "One of the bears raised and knocked her down (what was she doing so close to them?) The bear mauled her for a short period of time, and somehow she broke free."
Experts stated that if the woman would have backed out slowly, and let them be, the attack most likely would not have occurred - however, she frightened them, and they felt threatened.
Frana’s neighborhood is next to a state nature preserve, so interaction between bears and humans is not uncommon. She and her family, who have lived in the neighborhood for 10 years who should have known bear safety protocol, left the garage door open on Saturday night. That was asking for them to come in - bears are infamous for trash digging.
Now, because of human mistake, bears are being shot, trapped and euthanized. Some may have babies in their dens, who will most likely die of starvation without their mothers. Humans must try to understand wildlife and be respectful of them, before committing to living in or near their habitats.
“The fact that we have come across so many bears with so little fear of humans indicates that these bears are highly habituated and are regularly receiving food from people,” said Dave Telesco, the FWC’s Bear Program coordinator. “Our staff is dedicated to wildlife conservation. Having to put down these bears is a very difficult decision, but it’s the right decision to ensure public safety. Unfortunately, the saying is true: ‘a fed bear is a dead bear.’”
This was a case of a human making an error in judgment, and innocent bears are being killed as a result.
Image via YouTube