TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is awarding a total of $500,000 to 10 communities to help them reduce human-bear conflicts.
BearWise funding will be used to share the cost of bear-resistant trash cans, dumpsters and other equipment that will keep bears out of trash in neighborhoods and parks. The FWC is distributing BearWise funding to each of the 10 communities that applied for it.
The Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott provided $500,000 this year 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 had to go to communities with BearWise ordinances that require trash be kept secure from bears in all or parts of their jurisdictions.
The FWC awarded 69 percent of this year’s funding to four communities with BearWise ordinances:
- City of Apopka (Orange County) – $85,000 to buy bear-resistant trash cans to sell to residents at a discounted price in the western portion of the county.
- Lake County – $25,000 to buy bear-resistant trash cans to sell at a discounted price to county residents.
- Santa Rosa County – $58,000 to modify dumpsters to make them bear-resistant at restaurants and other businesses in the southern portion of the county.
- Seminole County – $177,000 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans to sell to residents at a discounted price in the western portion of the county.
The remaining funding was divided among six communities:
- City of Mount Dora (Lake County) – $18,000 to buy bear-resistant trash cans for city residents.
- Collier County – $45,000 to buy bear-resistant trash cans for county residents.
- Marion County – $5,000 to buy bear-resistant trash cans to sell at a discounted price to county residents.
- Okaloosa County – $18,000 to purchase hardware to modify trash cans to make them bear-resistant in the southern portion of the county.
- Volusia County – $50,000 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans to sell to residents at a discounted rate in the western portion of the county.
- Walton County – $19,000 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for parks and to modify dumpsters to make them bear-resistant in the southern portion of the county.
FWC staff evaluated this year’s BearWise funding applications based on several factors, including:
- Does the local government have an ordinance requiring trash is kept secure from bears?
- How many households are in an area with high human-bear conflicts?
- How much support (match) above the minimum of 10 percent will the local government provide for the project?
- What is the likelihood the project will result in a community-wide reduction of human-bear conflicts?
- How many households and businesses are expected to benefit from the project?
- Has the local government previously received BearWise funding from the FWC, and if so, how did the process work?
- Can the local government demonstrate demand for bear-resistant equipment in their jurisdiction?
Since 2007, a total of $2.1 million of BearWise funding has been provided to local governments. Over $1.4 million of this was provided with support from the Legislature and Gov. Scott and $680,000 from the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida using proceeds of the Conserve Wildlife license plate.
Support the FWC’s efforts to help bears and other wildlife by purchasing the Conserve Wildlife license plate. Learn more at BuyaPlate.com.
For more information on Florida black bears, including how to reduce conflicts with them, visit MyFWC.com/Bear and click on “Live BearWise,” watch the BearWise Communities video and read the A guide to living in bear country brochure.
–Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
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