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Collier County awarded money for bear-proof trash cans

Posted at 9:18 PM, Sep 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-13 22:23:44-04

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission awarded $45,000 to Collier County to buy bear-resistant trash cans for people living there. This is a portion of the $500,000 Governor Rick Scott gave FWC, which was distributed between 10 Florida counties to help reduce human-bear conflicts.

Andy Meunier was attacked by a bear in January and needed 61 stitches on his face.

"The scar's almost gone," he said. "Through here it's kind of numb sometimes."

The bear was likely going for his trash. 

Meunier lives in the Amberton Community, which is working to get dumpsters or a trash compactor so each resident won't have garbage cans outside their homes. FWC said this will help to reduce bear-human conflict in the neighborhood. But bear sightings are common throughout Collier County, which is why it was awarded the $45,000 by FWC for bear-resistant trash cans.

"About 16 counties that make up about 90-percent of the human-bear conflicts in Florida," David Telesco, FWC's Black Bear Management Program Coordinator, said. He said Collier County is in the top 10.

"The county is prioritizing areas in Collier that have the most conflicts," Telesco said.

Meunier said the cans are absolutely necessary throughout the county.

"The garbage will still be in there, but it helps if they can't get it out. Maybe they'll figure out 'We're not getting anything, we'll go elsewhere and look,'" Meunier said.

Since the attack, he said he's been much more careful. He doesn't go out back at night and carries an air horn wherever he goes.

"{My garbage cans} are empty. I don't put anything in there until trash day. Then I take it out front," he said. "I'm just not risking it anymore."

FWC said it'll be 2-3 months before the cans are on the ground. Not everyone in Collier County will get the cans, so if you're interested, FWC said to call Collier County's government offices and ask to be put on a waitlist to be considered.