WENDY VICTORA @WendyVnwfdn

Living in Northwest Florida, folks become accustomed to seeing squirrels, shorebirds, songbirds and the occasional opossum, usually dead by the side of the road.

But in actuality, we share this part of the world with everything from snakes and alligators, to bears, coyotes and beavers. You might also see foxes, owls, vultures, tortoises and turtles, most of whom seem to spend their days trudging back and forth busy roadways.

Wildlife and animal experts say it’s possible to peacefully coexist with most of these critters, although some may require a little extra consideration. They also say they get their fair share of calls from folks who are surprised to discover how closely they live to some species.

“The bears are the biggest as far as the public not realizing how many there are around here and being surprised when they show up in their back yards,” said Dee Thompson, director of the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society.

She said her agency gets calls about everything from domestic animals to alligators, bears, coyotes and snakes. Some calls they handle themselves. Others they refer to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

She said sometimes they’re only aware of the proximity of certain types of wildlife — particularly alligators and coyotes — after people’s small pets start disappearing.

“We have coyote issues right around the shelter here,” she said of their Lovejoy Road location. “They’re pretty  much showing up. We’ve never had anyone be attacked by one.”

Beavers are an animal that lives in our midst, but are rarely spotted. Folks along North Beal Extension on a cold winter night were treated to the sight of a large beaver waddling down the middle of the road. A few weeks later, a beaver found his way to the top of the bleachers in