Florida Gov. Rick Scott is proposing to use $230,000 of his $79.3 million budget for bear-proofing measures, such as bear-resistant trashcans and outreach programs, to reduce human-bear conflicts in the state.
According to a press release sent out Monday by Scott’s office, the money would be put toward partnerships between residents, local governments and businesses as a means of reducing and preventing bear attacks.
Jaclyn Lopez, the Florida director of the Center for Biological Diversity, stated in an email that Scott’s plan “sounds like a great start.” However, she added it likely won’t fix the problem altogether.
"The biggest issue in Florida is habitat loss, so the state and bears would be best served by funding Amendment 1 and securing and protecting the land necessary for healthy populations of Florida wildlife," she said. Amendment 1 is a measure requiring 33 percent of existing real-estate taxes to be used for buying and maintaining land.
Last month, the state sponsored a bear hunt to help reduce the number of bears by 10 percent. The Center for Biological Diversity was among the groups that tried to stop the hunt , which had been implemented by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. The black bear population was estimated at around 3,000 prior to the hunt.
Others echoed Lopez's concerns about the plan's potential inefficiency.
"Bear-proof trashcans without restoring the natural food supply will not solve the problem," said Speak Up Wekiva Director Chuck O'Neal in an email Tuesday. "If anything, it will make it worse."
Scott’s funding request will be considered during the legislative session that starts in January 2016.