Florida – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced on Tuesday that it will be awarding $825,000 to 12 counties, including Volusia County, to help reduce human-bear conflicts.
Unsecured trash is the biggest contributing factor to bears going into neighborhoods and coming into conflict with people.
“The recent scientific work to accurately estimate Florida’s adult bear population has confirmed that the recovery of the Florida black bear is a true conservation success story,” said Brian Yablonski, Chairman of the FWC. “A large bear population in Florida means that the FWC must continue our mission to balance the needs of our bears and Florida residents. Today’s funding announcement is innovative conservation work in action and serves as an important step forward for Florida communities that are working to address this serious problem. By continuing to strengthen our partnerships with local governments and neighborhoods, we are helping give Floridians the tools needed to reduce interactions with bears.”
FWC researchers partnered with Dr. Joseph Clark, a nationally recognized black bear scientist, earlier this year to get an estimate on FL’s bear population. That groundbreaking study estimated the state’s bear population at over 4,000 adults. Even though FL black bears aren’t typically aggressive, more bears in the state can only mean more human-bear interactions, which can be dangerous. The FWC’s goal is to balance the needs of this large animal population and the safety of Floridians.
“We are grateful to see such a significant level of funding now flowing to support and incentivize community-based solutions that will surely reduce conflicts between people and bears,” said FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley. “This has truly been a team effort with strong support from our Governor, Legislature, the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida and the leaders and residents in our local communities who are stepping up to help. As we take this important step forward, we need to be mindful that efforts to implement our comprehensive bear management plan will need to continue in earnest as our bear populations continue to grow and thrive across Florida.”
Volusia County will be receiving $80,000 total. The county as a whole is getting $40,000 to provide bear-resistant trash cans to residents at a discounted price, and the cities of Daytona Beach and DeBary will get $20,000 each to do the same.
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