According to Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the agency will $515,283 to ten Florida communities to address the issue of unsecured garbage and the unwanted confrontations between bears and people that ensue. The agency referred to "this critical issue" and said that BearWise funding will help communities purchase and provide bear-resistant trash cans, dumpsters and other equipment to their residents at a discounted cost."

According to the agency, a total of $515,000 is available to "assist local governments to be proactive and keep trash and other attractants secure from bears to reduce human-bear conflicts. The money is allocated by the state government from general funds in the amount of $415,000 to the FWC’s Bear Management Program for BearWise grants. In addition, $100,000 in proceeds from sales of the Conserve Wildlife license plate (‘The Bear Tag) have been made available to the FWC from the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida for this program.

According to a release, funds are being distributed to each of the 10 communities that applied:

Seminole County - $189,000 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for residents in the western portion of Seminole County, which has an ordinance requiring trash be kept secure from bears.

Lake County - $85,508 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for residents in Lake County, which has an ordinance requiring trash be kept secure from bears.

Volusia County - $75,000 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for residents in the western portion of Volusia County.

Holley by the Sea Improvement Association - $65,000 to purchase hardware to modify all 3,700 trash cans to make them bear-resistant in the Holley by the Sea Improvement Association, located in the southern portion of Santa Rosa County, which has an ordinance requiring trash be kept secure from bears.
Highlands County - $48,000 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for residents in the central portion of the Highlands County.

Orange County - $20,000 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for residents in the northwestern portion of Orange County, which has an ordinance requiring trash be kept secure from bears. Orlando and Disney World are located in Orange County.

Walton County - $18,000 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for Walton County parks and to modify dumpsters to make them bear-resistant.

Air Force Enlisted Village - $7,700 to modify dumpsters to make them bear-resistant in this community in Okaloosa County.

Collier County Parks and Recreation - $3,675 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for three Collier County parks.

Franklin County - $3,400 to purchase hardware to modify regular trash cans to make them bear-resistant for residents in the southern portion of Franklin County.

This year, Florida's legislature and Gov. Rick Scott provided $415,283 to the FWC to cost-share with local governments in areas with high levels of human-bear conflicts. At least 60 percent of the funding must go to communities with ordinances requiring trash be kept secure from bears until the morning of pickup. FWC staff evaluated BearWise funding applications based on several factors, including:

Does the community have an ordinance requiring residents and businesses to keep trash and other attractants secure from bears?

How many households within the community are in an area with significant human-bear conflicts and how many residences and businesses are expected to benefit?

How much in matching funds or in-kind services can the community provide?

What is the likelihood the project will result in a community-wide reduction of human-bear conflicts?

 

 



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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