A few nights ago, I had a raccoon try to break in to the screened porch (I theorize that she was after an unopened bag of cat food). My neighbor watched one terrify a stray cat she had just fed. We both agree that someone in the neighborhood is likely feeding the raccoons, given that they seem more aggressive and show less fear of humans than they did two or three years ago.
A few months ago, Disney made headlines when a toddler was dragged away by an alligator. It later emerged that both guests and Disney employees (including firefighters and first responders) had been feeding the animals. Basic elementary school safety lessons in Florida cover the link between feeding alligators and creating aggressive gators.
This link hurts wildlife as well as humans. Animals have been killed after tangling with humans. Last year, a 740-pound black bear was killed in Longwood, Florida, after it became acclimated to humans. The bear was continually sighted and displayed no fear of humans. It weighed three times more than the average adult male black bear and probably got that fat on unsecured garbage.
Bear-resistant trash cans, securing pet food and bird seed, and never leaving food in your car are ways that people can keep their property undamaged at home. And truthfully, since these tips also keep fire ants at bay (and keep the taste of plastic from seeping into foods left in hot cars), they should already be practiced by Floridians.
The National Park Service has had similar issues. This Orlando Sentinel article outlines some of the many ways visitors are wreaking havoc in park lands. A bison calf was euthanized after a Canadian tourist put it in his SUV. Tourists chased after an elk, forcing it to flee. One woman interviewed for the article even stated that she would like to feed a grizzly a cookie, should one present itself.
Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk theorizes that the rise of social media contributes to problems in the park. People taking selfies next to giant elk might get a lot of likes, but that image also gives stupid people the wrong idea about how dangerous these situations can be.
Now for some cozy things I liked today:
Cooking video of the day: Crayon Waterfall Cake
Long read of the day: How regulation of oil and gas production has decreased seismic activity
Cute pet of the day: