SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Seminole County appears to be willing to try a new approach to help residents keep bears out of their neighborhoods.
County commissioners met with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers to discuss solutions. One of those solutions would mean providing bear-proof trash cans to homeowners.
A surveillance camera snapped photos of a large black bear doing everything it could to get inside a bear
-resistant trash bin. The bear knocked the can over and even climbed on top, but was not able to get it open.
The pictures were taken not far from David Hammett's Markham Woods home last week.
Hammett said he has seen the same kind of scenes play out with his own bear-proof bin. He pointed out markings on the can where bears had tried to get it open.
"This was a brand
-new can when I got it. They tried to penetrate it," said Hammett.
He said he is not surprised by the new interest in bear
-proof containers after a bear attacked and seriously injured a Seminole County woman in December.
State wildlife officials told county leaders they're hoping to secure $20,000 to help residents buy the trashcans.
There are several different kinds of bear
-proof bins. One uses a latch system, that while simple and effective, will require trash collectors to take extra steps to get trash out of the bin.
County officials said the county's two waste-collection contractors are willing to do that.
Channel 9 learned that it would cost much more
than $20,000 to supply bear-proof bins to residents.
An estimated 25,000 county solid waste customers live west of Interstate
4, where the bears tend to be found. It would cost around $5 million to provide bins for each of those customers.
County Commissioner Brenda Carey said not everyone is affected by the bear issue, so the county will have to take a good look at how they would distribute the trash bins.
A bear-proof bin can be bought for around $200. Hammett said he has no regrets about his purchase.
"We're in their area, they're not going away," Hammett said about the bears.
FWC officials said they will find out in March whether they will get the money to sponsor a bear-proof trash can program in Seminole County.