FWC promotes bear-proof trashcans

Published: May. 18, 2017 at 2:01 PM EDT
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By: Jake Stofan; Capitol News Service

May 18, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says bear activity hits its peak in spring and early summer.

There are now 4,000 bears in Florida, with the population increasing between 2 percent and 15 percent each year.

The growing number of bears had hunting advocates pushing earlier this year to bring back an organized bear hunt. But, animal activists were ultimately able to convince the FWC to hold off for at least two years.

“They listened to the will of the people. Floridians don't support trophy hunting and certainly not bear hunting,” says Kate MacFall with the Humane Society.

Bears can grow to as big as 750 pounds, but males average between 250 and 300 pounds. Females often weigh less than 200 pounds.

The FWC warns that all bears can be dangerous and encourages people to avoid them.

FWC officials say public awareness is the biggest challenge in reducing encounters with bears.

“Our number one challenge is educating the public and keeping up with our growing population, not only of residents, but how many visitors come in,” says David Telesco.

Bears often come into residential areas searching for food, and six out of ten bear complaints involve garbage cans.

The FWC has received over $400,000 to help purchase bear-resistant trash cans.

This year, 4,000 of the cans will be made available and spread out among eleven different counties.

The FWC hopes the additional cans can help reduce the number of bears being euthanized, with 36 euthanized in 2016.

“We need to keep the trash secure because it's only going to take one bear, who is going to wander into a neighborhood, start getting used to trash, and then potentially be a public safety risk,” says Telesco.

The Humane Society is not criticizing the FWC’s bear management efforts, but says the legislature should provide more funding to the programs.

“For more cans, and also on a commercial side, for bear-proof dumpsters,” says MacFall.

Bear-proof trash cans are currently allowed in 16 counties.

By: Symone Davis

May 18, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is pushing for more bear safe communities.

On Thursday, FWC put on a live demonstration with the black bears at the Tallahassee Museum.

The two bears tried to crack open one of the bear-proof trashcans.

The demonstration is promoting FWC's grant funded program--"Bear Wise".

The group is working with cities and counties, by providing those areas with funding to help purchase more of the trashcans for residents.

The hope is that the more bear-proof trashcans there are out there, the less likely bears will hang around neighborhoods.

“And the idea is once they start seeing that, we’ve seen the bears recognize the can they stop even trying. They say, 'oh, that’s a bear-proof can,' and keep moving. That’s what we want,” said David Telesco, Bear Management Program Coordinator.

16 counties in Florida use the bear-proof cans, including Leon County. There are a limited number of trashcans, but Leon County residents can contact their Waste Pro service provider and test the trash can out for three months at a discounted price.