BearWise Cost Share Funding
A team of FWC staff reviewed the applications based on the criteria below.
- Does the municipality have an ordinance in place that requires residents and businesses to keep trash and other attractants secure from bears?
- How many households within the municipality are in an area with high human-bear conflicts?
- How much support (match) above the minimum of 10% will the local government provide for the project?
- What is the likelihood the project will result in a community-wide reduction of human-bear conflicts?
- How many households and businesses are expected to benefit from the project?
- Has the local government previously received BearWise funding from the FWC, and if so, how did the process work (e.g., were funds spent in a timely manner, was the equipment fully distributed)?
- Can the local government demonstrate demand for bear-resistant equipment in their jurisdiction (e.g., are residents and businesses willing to purchase and use the amount of bear-resistant equipment requested)?
The FWC awarded 69 percent of this year’s funding to four communities with BearWise ordinances:
- City of Apopka (Orange County) - $85,000 to buy bear-resistant trash cans to sell to residents at a discounted price in the western portion of the county.
- Lake County - $25,000 to buy bear-resistant trash cans to sell at a discounted price to county residents.
- 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.
- Seminole County - $177,000 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans to sell to residents at a discounted price in the western portion of the county.
The remaining funding was divided among six communities:
- City of Mount Dora (Lake County) - $18,000 to buy bear-resistant trash cans for city residents.
- Collier County - $45,000 to buy bear-resistant trash cans for county residents.
- Marion County - $5,000 to buy bear-resistant trash cans to sell at a discounted price to county residents.
- Okaloosa County - $18,000 to purchase hardware to modify trash cans to make them bear-resistant in the southern portion of the county.
- Volusia County - $50,000 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans to sell to residents at a discounted rate in the western portion of the county.
- Walton County - $19,000 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for parks and to modify dumpsters to make them bear-resistant 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.
Review the BearWise Funding FAQs to learn more.
Keep Bears Wild, Be BearWise
Are bears spending too much time in your community? Consider becoming BearWise and minimize negative interactions! By securing garbage, you can minimize bears lingering in the community. BearWise communities protect both people and bears.
BearWise: A Commitment and a Way of Life
When people intentionally or inadvertently feed bears, both people and bears lose. BearWise communities commit to learning to coexist with bears, knowing when and how to report bear activity, and securing all potential food sources. The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies aims to prevent human-bear conflicts to protect people and bears across the 15 states of the Southeastern U.S. with a BearWise webpage . The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission passed a statewide resolution in 2015 highlighting the importance of securing attractants.
There are at least 19 communities throughout North America who have successfully reduced human-bear conflicts by adopting Bear Wise practices. Hurlburt Air Field in Okaloosa County reduced their human-bear conflicts by 70% when they adopted BearWise principles. Wingfield North in Seminole County experienced a significant drop in human-bear conflicts within a few months of implementing their BearWise practices. The communities of St. Teresa and Alligator Point in Franklin County and Ave Maria in Collier County are starting to use BearWise practices and are seeing reductions in their conflicts with bears and other wildlife. Hog Wild BBQ in Carrabelle, FL took steps to secure their restaurant dumpster with modified lids and reduced the number of bear encounters significantly.
Benefits of BearWise
Bear reports have increased five-fold in the last decade in Florida. FWC can assist communities in becoming BearWise.
Why be BearWise? The most important reason to be BearWise is to protect people and bears. However, being BearWise can protect your local community organization (e.g. HOA, city, county) from being held liable if a person is injured by a bear. Bears that come into neighborhoods and get rewarded with easily accessible food begin to lose their natural fear of people. Once a bear spends more and more of its time in a neighborhood, its chances of survival drop as it is more exposed to vehicle strikes, illegal shooting, or trapping and removal by FWC to protect public safety.
Remember, ‘a fed bear is a dead bear!’
- Report fewer human-bear conflicts
- Increase confidence of their residents in enjoying the outdoors in their neighborhoods
- Attract fewer raccoons, rodents, and other nuisance wildlife which can be vectors of disease
- Respond more effectively to wildlife encounters
- Receive recognition for high standards of safety and prevention of human-bear conflicts
Ready to get started? Take Action!