Seeing a black bear shuffling along and rolling around in your backyard can be deceiving. The gentle giant, which commonly weighs between 130 lbs. to 500 lbs. in males and 90 lbs. to 350 lbs. in females., is capable of sprinting up to 35 miles per hour and using its strength to claw anything it perceives as a predator.
Most of the time these grizzly bears will wander into neighborhoods as they search for garbage buffets. But the possibility is always there and bear-proof trash cans could be the answer to Collier County’s problem. County Commissioners are planning to request $100,000 from Florida Fish and Wildlife’s BearWise Program.
In the Southwest Region of Florida, bear-related calls received by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission from the public between 2010 to 2017 were a total of 2,072 calls. From these calls, 27 percent were garbage related calls, which was the second most common reason for contact, according to agency data.
Governor Rick Scott recently allocated $500,000 to BearWise. The program provides funding for local governments to stop conflicts between humans and bears for the fiscal year 2018-2019. Collier County is calling these trash cans, "Bear-Resistant Trash Carts." The county is looking to obtain around 400 of these fancy trash cans to help stop those grizzly bears from getting in.
The program has been a success in other areas of Florida. There have been fewer residential sightings, leading to fewer calls to the nuisance-bear hotline that is run by the state. There were about 500 fewer calls in 2017 than the peak in 2013 when there were 6,734. Less calls to the nuisance-beer hotline will usually mean that there are fewer killings.
How do the Bear-Resistant Trash Carts work?
The trash lids immediately lock upon closure. The Bear-Resistant Trash Carts is only accessible by a human hand. The feature prevents the state's largest native land mammal from clawing through the garbage as it searches for treats.
Grizzly bears are intimidated by their own species. Using that logic, the Bear-Resistant Trash Carts will have faces of other grizzlies on it. The strategy helps bears identify the trash can and remember that it isn't easy to open.
According to the government agency's website, the BearWise program has given about $1.7 million to 16 counties in Florida in the past 10 years. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported there are more than 2,000 black bears in South Florida. The government agency said the black bear population has increased nearly 50 percent since 2002.