- Florida's Seminole County Commission unanimously approved a daily $100 fine for residents and business owners who don’t lock up their trash in order to deter bears. The ordinance, which will take effect in February, requests residents use a bear-resistant trash can or store their garbage inside a garage or shed. Residents without bear-resistant trash cans will be required to wait until after 5 a.m. to take their garbage containers to the curb.
- Seminole County is the first in Florida to impose fines for practices that attract bears to neighborhoods. Violators will likely receive only a warning for the first few weeks the ordinance is enacted, according to Orlando Sentinel.
- In addition to enforcement officers, animal-control officers, biologists and customer-service representatives will be able to write citations in designated bear-management areas, west of I-4. Bears have mauled three women in that region in the past two years.
The ordinance is intended to address a public safety issue rather than leave it up to the residents to protect themselves. In Boulder, CO residents face a steep first time fine of $250 for failing to secure their trash cans to keep bears out. Nevada and Alaska have also been working on ways to cut down on problems caused by foraging bears.
Commissioner Lee Constantine has pushed to address the problem for some time, advocating unsuccessfully for government-funded bear-resistant trash cans. "We are the epicenter [of human bear conflicts]," he said to the Orlando Sentinel. "And this is a major step."
But Steve DeMoor, a local wildlife trapper, believes the ordinance won’t make a difference as bears are well adapted to the area.
"We have a well-established population of urban bears living among us," DeMoor said. "The bears are here to stay."
Chuck Ness, president of the Wekiva Homeowners Association, was more concerned about the residents’ behavior.
"It should be very easy to comply with. But you'll likely still have people that will continue leaving their large trash cans outside in front of their garage doors," he told the Orlando Sentinel.