Unsecured trash is the No. 1 reason that Florida black bears enter neighborhoods and come into conflict with people, so the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is awarding Franklin County and nine other communities a total of $515,283 to address this critical issue.
BearWise funding will help communities purchase and provide bear-resistant trash cans, dumpsters and other equipment to their residents at a discounted cost.
Franklin County will get $3,400 to purchase hardware to modify regular trash cans to make them bear-resistant for residents in the southern portion of the county.
Funds also are being distributed to Seminole County, $189,000; Lake County, $85,508; Volusia County $75,000; Holley by the Sea Improvement Association, $65,000; Highlands County, $48,000; Orange County, $20,000; Walton County, $18,000; Okaloosa County’s Air Force Enlisted Village, $7,700; and Collier County Parks and Recreation, $3,675.
This year the 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.
The FWC also received funding from the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, which provided an additional $100,000 in proceeds from the Conserve Wildlife license plate.
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?
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.