A hibernation situation

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Solomon Cook
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The Tyndall area is home to a variety of wildlife to include the Florida Black Bear.

The Florida Black Bear is most active during the months from March to November. Although in the latter months of bears' active time, they prepare for hibernation.

During this time Team Tyndall must be "bear aware" to prevent a bear encounter.

A good place to start is on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's website. There you can find a description of Black Bears' possible denning locations and behaviors. Denning black bears enter a state of torpor, which is a modified form of hibernation. This drowsy condition allows bears to defend themselves (and their cubs) more effectively should a predator visit the den.

· Bears do not urinate or defecate during denning--they recycle their waste into proteins and other nutrients. By not defecating, bears keep their dens essentially scent-free, protecting them from potential predators like cougars.
· Black bears in coastal areas may remain active throughout the winter, except for pregnant females, which den to give birth to cubs.
· Black bears can take up residence in small dens, some scarcely bigger than a garbage can. Den sites include tree cavities, hollow logs, small caves, and areas beneath large roots, stumps, logs, and rural buildings. They'll occasionally excavate a den in the side of a hill near shrubs or other cover.
· Summer beds are merely concealed places scratched in the ground among dense vegetation, by a rock, or under the branches of a fallen tree. Young bears rest in trees for safety.

· Other bear aware tips to remember:  Use lock bars or door clips on dumpsters
·  Do not put garbage cans out at night
· Keep garage doors closed
·  Bird feeders are not allowed in housing
· Do not leave pet food outside
·  Thoroughly clean barbecue grills or store them in garage
· Do not approach a bear
·  Never feed bears

In the event of a bear encounter:

· Make loud noises
· Raise your arms to make yourself appear bigger
· Make sure the bear has an escape route
·  Move pets indoors, pets scare bears
·  If the bear will not leave, move to your house, car or building
· Do not run from the bear, walk away calmly
·  Do not look bear directly in the eyes, some animals view this as a threat
·  Killing or injuring a bear is a crime. Do not attempt to "put down" a bear.
· Airmen must remember wooded areas on base are a bear's natural habitat. Avoid those areas and you can avoid a bear encounter.

"Bears live throughout the undeveloped wooded portions of Tyndall," said Wendy Jones 325th CES/Natural Resources wildlife biologist. "These animals are seen most often when this habitat is adjacent to development in areas like housing, the support side of base and Silver Flag areas. Undeveloped areas provide a buffer for the military mission, and are also full of wildlife.
· Airmen must remember wooded areas on base are a bear's natural habitat. Avoid those areas and you can avoid a bear encounter.