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Bear-proofing becomes an issue in Okaloosa

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. 

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Regan McCarthy is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media. Before coming to Tallahassee, Regan graduated with honors from Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She worked for several years for NPR member station WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., where she covered local and state government and produced feature and community stories.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

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