If you were going to make an empirical list of states based on the sheer batshit craziness of its population, Florida would sit squarely, magnificently upon the top as the American crown jewel of inexplicable weirdness. There’s even a wildly entertaining Twitter account dedicated to the state’s what-did-they-do-now exploits, whose lead examples as of this writing include:
Clearly, Florida is as much a state of mind as it is a United State.
Today the wild and wacky denizens of the Sunshine State, half-mad with vitamin D overload, are mobilizing, banding together to defend themselves against a new and persistent threat.
No, not crazed, face-eating cannibals (although they’ve had troubles there, too), but something greater and far more dangerous than any single man can be.
Mother Nature herself.
Much to the chagrin of the Humane Society’s local chapter, Floridians are posse-ing up to hunt down the latest in a long lineage of predatory animals who have, for one reason or another, chosen to make hapless civilians their targets.
This time, it’s the black bear.
Four people have been injured by bear attacks in the state since 2012, prompting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to weigh re-imposing a bear hunting season after a 20-year ban. Animal rights activists counter that instead of shooting the animals, people should simply get bear-proof trash barrels and not leave food out where the curious predators could get their claw-tipped paws on it.
Florida being what it is, don’t look for common sense to prevail.
This latest call to action nips at the heels of another, in which the state sought to form civilian groups to do battle with a rampant infestation of Burmese pythons. An invasive species in the state, the snake has squirmed and squeezed its way to the top of the food chain in the fragile Everglades eco system, where they grow large enough to swallow whole crocodiles.
Or, in a more threatening move, someone’s 60 pound husky.
Or a small child.
Pythons and bears aren’t the only worries for the surfers, snowbirds, and vagabonds of our southernmost peninsula. It’s a region fraught with potential death or dismemberment from even ordinarily innocuous members of the animal kingdom. It’s as though Nature herself, aghast and appalled, pointed imperiously at the whole damn place and ordered her minions to attack.
There are the obvious offenders, like sharks, who harbor such an appetite for our dangling appendages that they’ve earned Florida the dubious honor of “shark bite capital of the world.” But you’d have to expect that from a near-tropical land mass surrounded on three sides by water.
So how’s about the herpes monkeys?
Yep, they’re a thing.
Legend has it a Florida tour guide brought Rhesus monkeys into the state decades ago, after people got excited about the movie Tarzan, and they’ve since escaped—going on to breed themselves into the hundreds, many of which are now somehow infected with herpes-B and considered a health hazard by authorities.
Down in Orlando, the city almost had to cancel their Halloween festivities last year because of an onslaught of feral hogs that poop all over the streets, tear up yards, and terrorize the populace. No attacks have been reported yet, but they can reportedly become aggressive when confronted.
"I've had four of my ribs broken. I've had my finger re-attached," veteran hog tracker James Dean told the Associated Press. "My buddy, he had his cap muscles torn out. He had to have surgery."
South Daytona has an ominous animal tiding all their own, one that could be explained by the volume of retirees in the state: constantly circling, roosting, and rooting vultures are lurking in their suburban neighborhoods, scaring the old and causing property damage.
And that’s just the tip of the animal iceberg. All across the state, this trend of animal-on-human violence is propagated.
Squirrels, who maim children and injure police in parks.
Coyotes running wild, having to be tracked and killed after attacking middle aged women.
Elderly ladies set upon and gored by seemingly gentle deer.
Hawks? Yep. Look out below.
Here’s a random one: A tarpon latches on to a man’s hand and attempts to drag him into the deep in a case of reverse angling.
None of these include the bounteous biomass of common critters, like poisonous snakes, of which Florida boasts many, spiders, and other insects, such as bloodsucking ticks, or the ubiquitous clouds of mosquitos who can impart horrifying diseases.
And men? If you find yourself visiting, make sure you wear some baggy shorts in the water, so as not to tempt the testicle-enticed pacu fish.
Sorry, are we putting a damper on your Disney vacation plans?