LAKE MARY, Fla. - Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) responded to an incident where a black bear injured a man on Wednesday evening in Daytona Beach.
The man, identified as Walter Hickox, received non-life-threatening injuries from a bear while attempting to protect his dogs around 7:30 p.m. His dogs were not injured.
The incident lasted seconds but felt more like minutes to Hickox.
"I pushed a little, shoved, and he backed off the porch. Got them [the dogs] off the porch, and he disappeared into the darkness," said Hickox.
The bear scratched Hickox’s back and its teeth caught him on the shoulder
A Go Fund Me page has been established to assist Hickox with his hospital bills and rabies shots. You can find that page here.
"FWC bear biologists and law enforcement officers immediately responded to the scene and are attempting to capture the bear. Per FWC policy, staff will humanely kill the bear if captured since it poses a threat to human safety," FWC said in a news release.
This is the second incident of a bear injuring a person within a week, though FWC calls the incidents "extremely rare" in Florida.
A DeBary woman was attacked at night while walking her dog a week ago. The woman received injuries to her head and back.
After the DeBary attack, neighbors were able to scare the bear and her cubs away into the wooded area nearby until the officers with the Florida Wildlife Commission and Volusia County sheriff's deputies were able to arrive on the scene.
FWC determined the bear would be a continued threat to the public and decided to humanly euthanize it. They left her approximately 100-pound yearlings alone, as they are old enough to care for themselves.
The FWC says it receives up to 6,000 bear-related calls a year and has documented only 15 incidents of people being moderately-to-seriously injured in more than 50 years, the wildlife agency said.
Early Thursday morning, FWC staff canvassed the Daytona Beach neighborhood where the incident occurred to make sure residents are aware and they provide tips on avoiding conflicts with bears.
FWC advises the following:
- To reduce human-bear conflicts, remove or secure all food attractants from around your house and yard, including garbage, pet food, and birdseed.
- To avoid an encounter between a bear and your dog, bang on your door and flip your house lights on and off to give the bear time to leave the area before letting your dog out.
- If your dog and a bear get into a fight, make noise and use your bear spray or a water hose if available.
- If the bear makes contact with you, fight back aggressively.
Contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) if you feel threatened by a bear; observe a sick, injured, dead or orphaned bear; or to report someone who is either harming bears or intentionally feeding them. To learn more about bears and how to avoid conflicts with them, visit MyFWC.com/Bear or BearWise.org.
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