Seminole County approves bear proof trash cans

Considered the epicenter of bear-human interaction in Florida, Seminole County is working on a strategy so the two can coexist. Seminole County commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to adopt an ordinance, which will require people who live in certain areas of the county to secure their trash or buy a bear-proof trash can.

The plan applies to people who live in the area west of Interstate 4, and in some eastern areas of the county, including parts of Lake Mary, Sanford and Altamonte Springs. Residents will be required to secure their trash and any bear attractants, including pet food and bird feeders. The ordinance also has a catch-all that says intentionally feeding bears anywhere in the county isn’t allowed.

Practically, that means people can either buy a bear-proof trash can, with a $180 price tag, or make sure their garbage is locked up until 5 a.m. on collection day.

With overwhelming support from the public in Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners said the plan will likely include a 60-day initial compliance period, during and after which the county will focus on educating residents about the new rules. Codes Enforcement will be watching to make sure people are securing their trash, while county leaders work with FWC to keep tabs on bear activity in the affected neighborhoods. If, after this initial compliance period someone is still not securing their trash, Codes Enforcement will issue warnings and eventually fines until the garbage is locked up.

County leaders are working with state representatives to get funding from Tallahassee to off-set the cost of the bear-proof cans.