NAVARRE — After numerous complaints about nuisance bears in Navarre neighborhoods, Santa Rosa County has passed a Bear-Wise Safety Ordinance to help prevent human/bear conflicts. The ordinance took effect Oct. 14.
The law essentially states that all Santa Rosa County residents in unincorporated areas south and west of Eglin Air Force Base must keep their garbage secure from bears and other wildlife, either through the use of a bear-resistant can or by storing garbage in an enclosed area until 6 a.m of the day of collection. The full ordinance is available online at www.santarosa.fl.gov.
A benefit of the ordinance is that it allows the county to apply for state funding for bear-resistant trash cans. The cans will then be made available to residents at a reduced cost. The bear-resistant cans are expected to be available some time in January. Residents who do not abide by the law face fines. The ordinance will be enforced as a category one violation under Ordinance 2015-14, which is a $120 fine.
Last year the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission received more than 6,000 calls in reference to bear incidents statewide. Locally, a high concentration of calls typically come from the south end of Santa Rosa County.
Santa Rosa County, along with 18 other counties who have passed trash ordinances, will also receive funding from FWC to be applied to bear-conflict reduction, according to a press release from FWC.
For more information on the Bear-Wise program and living safely with black bears, visit www.myfwc.com.