SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Neighbors in one Seminole County neighborhood can expect stricter enforcement after recent bear encounters, says an official from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation during a meeting on Wednesday night.
- Officials will start to enforce the rules, which includes fines
- RELATED stories:
- SEE BELOW: An interactive graph of bear-related calls ▼
- SEE BELOW: Living with Florida Black Bears ▼
People living in the Springs came to a meeting Wednesday night to hear from FWC officials about efforts to reduce bear encounters.
Close encounters with bears are common in the Seminole County neighborhood.
"I walked out of my garage one evening walking my dog, 3 feet from me was a bear scratching its back on my big old tree. And I looked over, saw him, dog saw him, looked over, picked up the dog and just walked back in the house," said HOA president Jerry Alexandrowicz.
Last week a woman said she was bitten by a bear after her dog ran after it, which prompted the FWC to try and trap it.
However, there is a lot of bear support in the neighborhood.
Many who live there say it is not fair for the bear to be captured and euthanized, even after the attack on one of their neighbors.
But FWC wildlife scientist Mike Orlando says when a human is attacked, they have to take action.
"If a bear is acting aggressively, and it's escalating, escalating and we don't know about it, somebody could really get hurt, and/or killed, and we don't want that," he said.
The neighbors want better enforcement of the laws so there are no more bear/human conflicts.
In fact, there is an ordinance in Seminole County to use bear-resistant trashcans.
Although the recent bear attack had nothing to do with trash being left out.
However, Orlando says FWC still sees people in the neighborhood not following the rules.
"People not only in this community but statewide, people feel the need to put food out for animals. You know if you're feeding a bird or deer or something like that and a bear shows up, it does become a violation of Florida administration code," Orlando said.
Seminole County commissioner Lee Constantine says their code enforcement will be more responsive to reports of trashcans not being used properly.
And if a resident does not use them properly after repeated warnings, they could face fines up to a $100 a day, every day until the problem is fixed.
Everyone in the neighborhood is supposed to use bear-resistant trashcans.
However, the attack last week was not because of trash, it was because of a dog.
Leash laws are also on the books in Seminole County.