- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Waste Pro have signed a memorandum of understanding to help residents make trash containers more bear-resistant in northwest Florida, as reported by the Press Gazette.
- This means that Waste Pro will help make bear-resistant containers more affordable to regional customers in the 30 municipalities around Leon and Calhoun counties. A standard 95-gallon container can cost about $60 as compared to $200 for a bear-resistant one.
- The FWC received $825,000 from the state legislature for bear mitigation this year, though local governments must match state funds and approve ordinances around container maintenance in order to be eligible.
The FWC says it hopes this agreement with Waste Pro will encourage more local governments to meet the funding requirements. So far only two counties have approved bear ordinances. The agency has previously pushed for a statewide ordinance around bear-resistant containers.
Florida estimates there are about 4,350 adult bears in the state and the population has grown so much that they were removed from the state's threatened species list in 2012. This has led to increased numbers of bears being killed by vehicles as well as more encounters with humans. Other mitigation efforts include relocating bears from densely populated areas, increasing penalties for feeding them and educating residents about keeping waste inside until collection day.
Municipalities in other parts of the country have taken a stricter approach by requiring residents to buy bear-resistant containers or face a fine. Boulder, CO now has a zero tolerance policy and has issued hundreds of citations to residents this summer.