The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants to remind residents and visitors that spring has sprung in the Sunshine State.
This is an important time of year for wildlife.
Manatees will leave their winter warm-water refuges. Black bears will teach their young to forage for food. Many species will begin to migrate, mate, feed and nest.
This wildlife activity means people are more likely to encounter wildlife, and should take precautions to avoid disrupting these natural behaviors and prevent conflicts with wildlife.
The FWC offers these tips on how to enjoy and help conserve wildlife during the spring.
- Manatees: Chances of close encounters between manatees and boaters increase in the spring, as manatees leave their winter-use areas and travel the intracoastal waterways. Boaters should increase their awareness and be on the lookout to avoid collisions with these mammals.
- Nesting birds: Keep your distance from birds on the beach and birds gathering on tree islands. Disturbances can cause birds to abandon nests, which exposes eggs and chicks to predators. People should look out for eggs well-camouflaged in shallow scrapes of sand.
- Alligators: When the weather warms up, alligators become more active and are visible as they begin seeking food.
- Gopher tortoises: These tortoises forage for food and search for mates during the spring. Leave tortoises alone if you see them or their half-moon shaped burrow entrances.
- Bears: Females are teaching their cubs what to eat and the skills necessary to survive. Secure or remove garbage, pet food and birdseed in your yard.
- Sea turtles: These large marine reptiles begin nesting in the spring. Keep beaches dark and free of obstacles through October. Avoid using artificial light, such as flashlights or cellphones, on the beach at night.
- Bats: Maternity season starts April 15. It is illegal to exclude bats during this time. Inspect and seal small cracks or holes that might allow bats inside your home.
- Snakes: If you see a snake in your yard, or while hiking, stand back and observe it. Snakes don’t purposely position themselves to frighten people.
- Injured and orphaned wildlife: If you find a baby animal, leave it alone. Its parent may be nearby searching for food or observing its young. But, report wildlife that you think may be injured or orphaned.
To learn more tips about wildlife in the spring, visit MyFWC.com/news/spring-news.
Published March 11, 2020