Central Fla. Communities Apply for 'BearWise' Funding

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says it has received applications from 10 communities for BearWise funding to help reduce human-bear conflicts.

In Central Florida, the communities were Lake County, Orange County, Seminole County, and Volusia County.

The FWC says it will evaluate the applications, prioritizing the communities with BearWise ordinances requiring residents and businesses to keep garbage secure from bears. 

BearWise ordinances can be passed by a county, city or homeowner’s association. 

The funding helps offset the costs for residents and businesses to acquire bear-resistant trash cans and dumpsters. 

The FWC says it plans to announce the funding awards in mid-November.

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature approved $415,283 of the funds, with the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida providing an additional $100,000 from sales of the Conserve Wildlife license plate. 

Sixty percent of the $415,283 must go to communities that passed BearWise ordinances requiring residents and businesses to keep their trash secure until the morning of garbage pickup. 

Lake, Orange and Seminole counties all applied for funding and have BearWise ordinances in effect.

Last year, the FWC distributed over $800,000 in BearWise funding to 11 counties, three cities and one homeowner’s association to purchase 5,100 bear-resistant trash cans and 3,800 sets of hardware to secure regular trash cans. 

Over 75 percent of last year’s funding was provided to communities with BearWise ordinances.

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