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News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida can help. Our responsibility is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Seeing Wildlife? Keep Socially Distant

A raccoon checks things out.
courtesy Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The widespread quarantine brought on by COVID-19 is affecting how we interact with nearly everyone. Even wildlife. 

With many of us humans not being out and about as usual, and fewer cars on the road, some wildlife may be feeling more comfortable roaming into residential areas. On the one hand, it’s a great opportunity to see some animals you may not normally get to see. But you want to stay safe too. Sally Stein is Director of Public Programs at the Audubon Corkscrew Sanctuary Swamp in Naples. She says that the larger mammals tend to be out in the early morning and later evening.

"Things like bobcats, panthers, coyotes even…those are very active during the dawn and the dusk part of the days," Stein said. "So anytime you’re going out early in the morning or late in the evening, it’s good to bring a flashlight, so you can keep aware of what’s out there. If you are walking a dog, you want to keep them on a short leash."

Large mammals, remember, just want to go about their business. And they are as wary of us as we are of them.

"If you do encounter something at a close proximity, something like a bobcat or a panther, or a bear, you never want to run away. You want to always maintain eye contact and kind of back away and make yourself appear bigger, like pick your arms up really tall," said Stein.

In short…enjoy the closer views of these magnificent animals. But do be sure keep up your best social distancing. 

Copyright 2020 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

Cary Barbor is the local host of All Things Considered and a reporter for WGCU. She was a producer for Martha Stewart Radio on Sirius XM, where she hosted a live interview show with authors of new books called Books and Authors. She was a producer for The Leonard Lopate Show, a live, daily show that covered arts, culture, politics, and food on New York City’s public radio station WNYC. She also worked as a producer on Studio 360, a weekly culture magazine; and The Sunday Long Read, a show that features in-depth conversations with journalists and other writers. She has filed stories for The Pulse and Here & Now. In addition to radio, she has a career writing for magazines, including Salon, Teen Vogue, New York, Health, and More. She has published short stories and personal essays and is always working on a novel. She was a Knight Journalism Fellow, where she studied health reporting at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and followed epidemiologists around Kenya and Alaska. She has a B.A. in English from Lafayette College and an M.A. in Literature from the University of Massachusetts.