BearWise grant to secure restaurant dumpsters

South Santa Rosa County has been selected for a $58,000 grant to prevent bears from getting into local restaurant trash cans.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) awarded a total of $500,000 in grants to 10 communities to reduce human-bear conflicts as part of BearWise.

Santa Rosa’s grant would go toward modifying dumpsters to make them bear-resistant at restaurants and other businesses in the southern portion of the county.

This is not the first time Santa Rosa County has been selected by BearWise. In 2018, residents of Holley by the Sea were able to receive bear-proofing locks for their trash cans through the program. In 2017, the county was selected for $150,000 to go toward bearproof trashcans, but the County Commissioners opted not to accept the grant over concerns about signing a hold harmless agreement with franchise waste hauler in order to have the specialized Kodiak trash cans picked up.

This year the commissioners will have an opportunity once again to accept or decline the funds.

Florida 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. Santa Rosa has such an ordinance.

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