In an effort to help reduce human-bear conflicts, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is inviting local governments to apply for BearWise funding for their communities.
The FWC will focus on providing funding to local governments with BearWise ordinances requiring residents and businesses to keep garbage secure from bears. The funding will offset the costs for residents and businesses to use bear-resistant equipment to secure their garbage from bears.
Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature appropriated $415,000 for this project and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida added $100,000 from proceeds of the Conserve Wildlife license plate, for a total of $515,000 in available BearWise funding this year.
“Thanks to Gov. Scott, the Florida Legislature and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, these new funds will allow us to continue to expand our work with local community partners to ensure they have the tools and resources they need to help avoid conflicts with bears,” said Nick Wiley, FWC Executive Director.
The FWC invites counties, cities and other local governments to submit applications to be considered for funding. While preference will be given to applications from areas with BearWise ordinances and to large projects benefiting the most people, consideration will also be given to other proposals as funding allows.
Local governments are strongly encouraged to consult with FWC staff to discuss options and implementation before submitting their applications. The FWC will assist any local government considering passing an ordinance, including providing example ordinances.
Last year, the FWC distributed $825,000 in BearWise funding to 11 counties, three cities, and two homeowners associations to purchase 4,000 bear-resistant trash cans, 2,500 sets of hardware to secure regular trash cans, and 40 dumpsters modified to keep bears out. Over 70 percent of funding was provided to local governments with BearWise ordinances.
To be considered, the FWC must receive applications before close of business on Oct. 16. Applications should be emailed to BearManagement@MyFWC.com or mailed to The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Attention: Bear Management Program, 620 South Meridian St., 6B, Tallahassee, FL 32399.
Help the FWC help bears and other wildlife by purchasing the Conserve Wildlife license plate at BuyaPlate.com.