TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A program to help local communities reduce bear interactions with humans failed to make it into next year’s state budget.
Lawmakers had considered earmarking $500,000 to help local governments provide bear-resistant garbage containers.
However, the “BearWise” language was not included in the final $91.1 billion budget approved Saturday by lawmakers, as overall funding for nuisance wildlife control was reduced by $1.1 million before the plan passed.
Susan Neel, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said Tuesday that while the money for the “BearWise” program did not make the final cut, “we will be working with our partners to continue this effort.”
The past three years the commission has used legislative allocations for the program, with priority going to counties and cities with ordinances requiring residents and businesses to bear-proof trash containers.
The program was crafted after the commission held a controversial two-day bear hunt in 2015 -- the first in two decades -- that resulted in 304 bears being killed.
Money for the program has been generated, in part through the sale of “Conserve Wildlife” license plates.
Nuisance wildlife control within the game management portion of the budget is slated to receive $2.6 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1.