Local communities on list for ‘BearWise’ funding

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Special to the Daily News

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 10 communities with 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. Funds are being distributed to each of the 10 communities that applied.

Three local communities were approved for the funding.

Holley by the Sea Improvement Association will receive $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.

Walton County will receive $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 will get $7,700 to modify dumpsters to make them bear-resistant in this community in Okaloosa County.

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?





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