HOLT, Fla., Dec. 10, 2018—The Okaloosa County Board of Commissioners approved a program to provide free bear latches for residential trashcans Dec. 4.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission program, presented to the board by Jason Autrey, director of county public works, will provide an award of $18,000 in BearWise funding to help Okaloosa County reduce bear contacts.
That will purchase approximately 900 sets of hardware to modify trashcans to make them bear resistant.
“If you have BearWise containers, which is simply a latch on the trashcans, it really reduces the amount of contact that bears have,” Autrey said.
The program is available to any Okaloosa County resident.
“If you are a resident…up against a bear-prone area, there will be a grant available where you don’t pay anything and we’ll be able to provide you with a latch for your can,” said Autrey. “You can retrofit your existing can.”
While Waste Management Inc. customers are required to unlatch the cans on trash pickup days, Adams Sanitation drivers will unlatch and empty bear-resistant cans as needed, according to a response from Adams.
Although Autrey highlighted the need for the program because of bear interactions in the southern part of the county, Commissioner Nathan Boyles, a Holt resident, quickly pointed out bears raid trashcans in this area as well.
“This is not exclusively a south county issue,” he said. “It’s a north county issue as well. We just don’t complain about it as much up here.”
County residents can contact Okaloosa County Public Works at 689-5772 to request a trashcan latch.
“We’ll get you in contact with the right people, get you the hardware and help you install it,” Autrey said.