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Seeing Wildlife? Keep Socially Distant

courtesy Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
A raccoon checks things out.

The widespread quarantine brought on by COVID-19 is affecting how we interact with nearly everyone. Even wildlife. 

With many of us humans not being out and about as usual, and fewer cars on the road, some wildlife may be feeling more comfortable roaming into residential areas. On the one hand, it’s a great opportunity to see some animals you may not normally get to see. But you want to stay safe too. Sally Stein is Director of Public Programs at the Audubon Corkscrew Sanctuary Swamp in Naples. She says that the larger mammals tend to be out in the early morning and later evening.

"Things like bobcats, panthers, coyotes even…those are very active during the dawn and the dusk part of the days," Stein said. "So anytime you’re going out early in the morning or late in the evening, it’s good to bring a flashlight, so you can keep aware of what’s out there. If you are walking a dog, you want to keep them on a short leash."

Large mammals, remember, just want to go about their business. And they are as wary of us as we are of them.

"If you do encounter something at a close proximity, something like a bobcat or a panther, or a bear, you never want to run away. You want to always maintain eye contact and kind of back away and make yourself appear bigger, like pick your arms up really tall," said Stein.

In short…enjoy the closer views of these magnificent animals. But do be sure keep up your best social distancing.