Collier County to receive more funding for bear-proof trashcans

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A new program is providing bear-proof trash cans to help prevent the animals from getting into neighbor’s trash.

In Collier County, bears are becoming more common on people’s properties, digging through dumpsters, walking feet from front doors.

“At the end of the day we can’t really control nature,” said Golden Gate Estates resident Melissa Ruby.”Our population is growing so it’s kind of like a double-edged sword.”

Ruby says we have to find a way to bear with it.

Southwest Florida could be a step closer to a solution Tuesday. Commissioners plan to request $100,000 from Florida Fish and Wildlife to roll out 400 bear-resistant trash cans in parts of unincorporated Collier County.

“Maybe we put less trash out or pay more attention to what we’re putting in our trash cans,” Ruby said.

Gov. Rick Scott allotted $500,000 to FWC’s BearWise program to help local governments reduce human-bear conflicts. $300,000 will be for governments with ordinances in place that require trash to be secured. The remaining can go to those without.

Collier County does not have an ordinance.

“The barrels were very well constructed very, very heavy,” said Judy Owens of Golden Gate Estates.

Waste management is running a 30-day pilot program with the bear-safe cans in neighborhoods that FWC deems high-bear activity areas.

Now, to secure her trash, Judy has a bear box, and says it’s helped keep bears out in the past.

“The bears were very aggressive  they were coming really right up to the porch,” she said.

Adding bear-proof cans can only be a good thing, neighbors say.

During the past 10 years, FWC has given just under $2 million in BearWise funding to 16 counties.

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