Lions and Gators and Bears, Oh My!


Thoughts from TFCB author Ann Downer on this Labor Day holiday:

“There’s a bear sleeping on the porch!”

That is a text Mason MacDonough’s mom isn’t going to forget any time soon. Her 7-year-old son discovered the bear napping on the porch of their Florida home on August 15.

That same day, outside Detroit, 12-year-old Abby Wetherell was out jogging when she found herself being chased by a 150-pound black bear. As the bear knocked her to the ground and began clawing her leg, Abby played dead. Her father and a neighbor drove the bear away, and Abby is recovering from her injuries. Brave girl!

Run-ins with bears continued to make the news. By the third week in August, CNN’s lead story was “7 People Mauled By Bears in Recent Days,” detailing bear attacks in five states.

What’s gotten into the bears, anyway? It would be more correct to say what has gotten into their territory: humans. As one expert pointed out, we like to vacation where bears live. As we jog, hike, or mountain bike, we can surprise bears going about their business, looking for food or raising cubs. A surprised bear is a dangerous bear.

Our planet is increasingly urban, as roads, housing developments, and shopping centers replace animal habitat. Can we learn to coexist with our wild neighbors?

I explore the issues in seven cities around the globe in a new TFCB title for Fall 2013 called Wild Animal Neighbors: Sharing Our Urban World (“An excellent introduction to this urban conundrum,” says National Science Teachers Association)

Check in again on September 30 for more from TFCB!