SEMINOLE COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) commended Seminole County on its unanimous vote Tuesday to approve an ordinance that will help deter bears from lingering in Seminole County neighborhoods. The ordinance requires residents to take precautions to remove food attractants such as unsecured garbage and encourages the use of bear-resistant trash receptacles.
“By passing this ordinance, Seminole County is leading the way and taking a critical step to improving the safety of people and bears in this area,” said FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski. “We have been working closely with Seminole County on this effort and they have been a great partner. We hope that other communities throughout the state will join us and take similar action.”
Keeping bears from lingering in neighborhoods is important for both bear conservation and human safety. In the past two years, there have been three serious bear attacks on residents in this area. If bears associate places where people live and work as an easy place to find a meal, they will gradually lose their natural fear of humans.
“Because these neighborhoods are located next to key wildlife habitat, bears will always be nearby,” said FWC bear biologist Mike Orlando. “However if people remove attractants as this ordinance requires, bears will have no reason to stay in the area. With no food rewards, bears will likely move on.”
The FWC passed a unanimous resolution in June encouraging counties, municipalities, and homeowners associations to develop ordinances or bylaws that require garbage to be secured from bears. The resolution directed FWC staff to provide technical assistance to local governments and homeowners associations, including model ordinances.
Two neighborhoods in Seminole County, Wingfield North, and Wingfield Reserve, working with the FWC, already voluntarily adopted “Bear Wise” policies for their communities. Bear Wise communities commit to learning to coexist with bears, knowing when and how to report bear activity, and securing all potential food sources.
To learn how to become Bear Wise, visit MyFWC.com/Bear and click on “Bear Wise Communities” on the left side of the page.