This year, there have been increasing instances of wildlife- human encounters. About 200 people die from animal attacks every year in the US.
With the recent sightings of bears, snakes and other wildlife in the Madison County area, people are concerned. We spoke with Mike Fritz, Director of Madison County Animal Control, who gave us more information on the issue.
When asked about the recent bear sightings, Fritz says its likely just something that comes with the territory.
“My personal thinking is that it’s just a natural population expansion. You know, every area of the state- be it northern Alabama, Central Alabama- is only going to be able to withstand a certain population. Be it bears, deer, raccoon, or any of those sort of wildlife you may encounter.”
And you just may have those encounters. When people move in, wild animals have to move out.
“They’re being pushed out of a territory, and trying to establish their own new territory.”
But what do you do if you encounter one of these animals when help can be far away?
Fritz says, “They’re gonna be, probably more so, scared of you than you are of them. Best thing to do is be calm, hold still, let them move on and continue with your hike.”
Having to capture large wildlife is an issue that Madison County Animal Control doesn’t normally encounter. But Mike Fritz does say, its generally safe to set up traps at home to catch and relocate smaller wildlife on your own.
“You may want to put on some good leather gloves. Mainly just pick [the cage] up, cover [the cage] up with a blanket or tarp and remove them that way,” advises Fritz.
If you do find yourself on one of Huntsville’s many trails coming in contact with a wild animal. Be sure to be careful and be smart. Don’t throw things at the animal or antagonize it.
After the encounter, be sure to alert Madison County Animal Control and the authorities.