Bear-proofing becomes an issue in Okaloosa

Jan 4, 2012

Florida wildlife officials are proposing a pilot project for bear-proof garbage cans in one Panhandle county. Regan McCarthy has more.

Okaloosa County commissioners are considering a proposal to install bear-proof garbage cans in the county. If approved, the six-month program would be funded with a $30,000 grant from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Bear Management Coordinator David Telesco says bears are often lured into a person's yard by an accessible garbage can, but he says some people don't take the issue seriously enough to take steps like getting a bear-proof can.

"There's that sense of well, I'm in Florida why would I do that. But the reality is, we have the same issues as Yellow Stone does or Yosemite. We just don't have brown bears. We have the black bear which a lot of people consider the teddy bear, and the reality is they both get in trouble."

The grant would pay for up to one thousand reinforced garbage cans in a neighborhood where many bear incidents are reported. At the end of the six months, residents can opt to keep the cans for a monthly fee.