The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is awarding a total of $500,000 to 10 communities to help them reduce human-bear conflicts.

 BearWise funding will be used to share the cost of bear-resistant trash cans, dumpsters and other equipment that will keep bears out of trash in neighborhoods and parks. The FWC is distributing BearWise funding to each of the 10 communities that applied for it. 

The Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott provided $500,000 this year to the FWC to cost-share with local governments in areas with high levels of human-bear conflicts. At least 60 percent of the funding had to go to communities with BearWise ordinances that require trash be kept secure from bears in all or parts of their jurisdictions. 

The FWC awarded 69 percent of this year’s funding to four communities with BearWise ordinances, including Okaloosa County - $18,000 to purchase hardware to modify trash cans to make them bear-resistant in the southern portion of the county; and Santa Rosa County – $58,000 to modify dumpsters to make them bear-resistant at restaurants and other businesses in the southern portion of the county.

Since 2007, a total of $2.1 million of BearWise funding has been provided to local governments. Over $1.4 million of this was provided with support from the Legislature and Gov. Scott and $680,000 from the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida using proceeds of the Conserve Wildlife license plate.

For more information on Florida black bears, including how to reduce conflicts with them, visit MyFWC.com/Bear and click on “Live BearWise,” watch the BearWise Communities video and read the A guide to living in bear country brochure.

People may also support the FWC’s efforts to help bears and other wildlife by purchasing the Conserve Wildlife license plate at BuyaPlate.com.