‘Bears aren’t the bad guys’: Golden Gate Estates man works to secure trash bins

A Golden Gate Estates man is working to keep curious bears away from neighborhood trash cans.

Steve Gafford put together his own tool kit with buckles and straps to help keep trash lids secure and inaccessible.

Gafford blames garbage for a recent spike in bear sightings.

“We want bears to go be bears and people to go be people and the garbage is the meeting place that causes the conflict between the two,” Gafford said.

Collier County plans to meet with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to hold a conversation about getting bear-resistant trash cans in residential areas.

“Bears aren’t the bad guys here,” Gafford said. “Garbage is the issue.”

Gov. Rick Scott approved $500,000 in BearWise funding to start on July 1. Local governments are encouraged to apply for funding to help their communities reduce human-bear conflicts.

To keep bears away, the FWC reminds residents to follow this advice:

  • Secure household garbage in a shed, garage or a wildlife-resistant container.
  • Put household garbage out on morning of pickup rather than the night before.
  • Secure commercial garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters.
  • Protect gardens, beehives, compost and livestock with electric fencing.
  • Encourage your homeowners association or local government to institute ordinances on keeping foods that attract wildlife secure.
  • Feed pets indoors or bring in dishes after feeding.
  • Clean grills and store them in a locked, secure place.
  • Remove wildlife feeders or make them bear-resistant.
  • Pick ripe fruit from trees and remove fallen fruit from the ground – bears love fruit!
  • Screened enclosures ARE NOT SECURE and WILL NOT keep bears out.
Reporter:Hannah Vogel
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