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Testing Bear-Resistant Trash Cans in Residential Areas of Florida
Mark A. Barrett, David J. Telesco, Sarah E. Barrett, Katelyn M. Widness, and Erin H. Leone

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 13, Issue 1 (2014): 26-39

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Southeastern Naturalist M.A. Barrett, D.J. Telesco, S.E. Barrett, K.M. Widness, and E.H. Leone 2014 Vol. 13, No. 1 26 2014 SOUTHEASTERN NATURALIST 13(1):26–39 Testing Bear-Resistant Trash Cans in Residential Areas of Florida Mark A. Barrett1,*, David J. Telesco1, Sarah E. Barrett1, Katelyn M. Widness2, and Erin H. Leone1 Abstract - Human–bear interactions in Florida are becoming more common as human populations grow and as the range of Ursus americanus floridanus (Florida Black Bear) increases and bears adapt to finding food in a human-modified environment. The number of calls to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) concerning human–bear interactions increased from approximately 1000 calls in 2000 to more than 4000 in 2010. Almost 70% of the calls received in 2010 were related to bears consuming garbage or other unnatural foods (e.g., pet food) in residential areas. Therefore, the FWC used telephone surveys in 2 Florida communities to evaluate the effectiveness of using 2 types of bear-resistant trash cans. Surveys revealed a significant reduction in the number of bears consuming garbage and of other human–bear interactions over a 1-year period and, consequently, a positive attitude from residents toward using these trash cans. Apportioning the cost of issuing bear-resistant trash cans, however, remains a concern. This study will help the FWC understand the efficacy and acceptability of using bear-resistant trash cans to reduce human–bear conflicts in support of long-term management of Black Bears in Florida. Introduction Human–wildlife interactions are becoming more common as human populations grow and encroach on natural areas. Some wildlife populations are also increasing and may habituate to and in some cases thrive in human-modified surroundings by entering urban and suburban areas to find food and shelter, increasing the frequency of interactions with humans. Interactions with wildlife can be benign, solicited (e.g., at bird feeders), or unwelcome (e.g., when property is damaged). When humans have negative reactions to encounters with a wild animal, the animal is usually deemed a nuisance, a term commonly used to describe a variety of wildlife species that enter human-inhabited areas, including bears. Ursus americanus Pallus (American Black Bear) have historically ranged throughout the southeastern United States. Florida, southern Georgia, and southern Alabama are occupied by U. a. floridanus Merriam (Florida Black Bear), a subspecies of the American Black Bear (Brady and Maehr 1985). The Florida Black Bear occurs in 48 of Florida’s 67 counties, its range covering approximately 32% of the state (45,300 km2) (FWC 2012). In 2002, the Black Bear population in Florida was estimated to be at least 3000 (FWC 2012). In 2010, Florida’s human population 1Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 620 South Meridian Street 6B, Tallahassee, FL 32399. 2 Florida State University, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, 333 Bellamy Building, Tallahassee, FL 32306. *Corresponding author - mark.barrett@ myfwc.com. Manuscript Editor: Roger Applegate Southeastern Naturalist 27 M.A. Barrett, D.J. Telesco, S.E. Barrett, K.M. Widness, and E.H. Leone 2014 Vol. 13, No. 1 was estimated at 18.8 million (US Census Bureau 2010). Expansions of both populations in Florida in recent decades have caused an increase in human–bear interactions, particularly in residential areas, where bears often search for food. Black Bears are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders. In Florida, bears forage in a wide range of habitats (Maehr and Brady 1982), and plant material makes up approximately 80% of their diet (Maehr and DeFazio 1985). Typical food items include fruits, berries, herbaceous matter, mast (especially acorns), and colonial insects (Maehr and Brady 1984). Bears in Florida have relatively large home ranges, averaging 40 km2 for females and 65 km2 for males (FWC 2012). They may expand their home range, however, when natural food sources become scarce as a result of seasonal or climatic variations or habitat loss or degradation (Lindzey et al. 1986, Maehr et al 1988, Moyer et al. 2007) and forage in developed areas. Such shifts in foraging behavior sometimes create conflicts and also increase bears’ reliance on anthropogenic food sources (Beckmann and Berger 2003). Although bears often consume garbage near human dwellings, other types of human–bear interactions occur as well, ranging from benign observations to threat behaviors by bears toward humans, such as posturing or bluff charging. Bears will also consume wildlife feed or pet food, cause property damage, or injure or kill pets or livestock. Black Bears are usually non-confrontational, but the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has documented injuries to humans caused by bears in Florida. Of the 14 people injured by bears, 11 involved bears that were accessing garbage or other anthropogenic food sources (e.g., pet foods, bird feeders; FWC, Tallahassee, FL, unpubl. data). From 2008 through 2012, the FWC euthanized an average of 16 bears per year, primarily because food conditioning had caused them to lose their fear of humans, resulting in dangerous situations. Reducing the frequency of bears foraging in human communities would benefit both bears and humans. When a human–bear interaction occurs, the FWC is usually contacted to respond to the situation. The number of such calls increased from approximately 1000 calls in 2000 to more than 4000 in 2010 (FWC 2012). Almost 70% of the calls received in 2010 were related to bears accessing garbage and other unnatural food sources in residential areas. Consequently, there is a strong impetus for the FWC to focus its efforts to reduce bears’ access to these anthropogenic food sources. The FWC has pursued three primary approaches: raising public awareness of the conflicts created by bears seeking garbage, increasing the availability and use of bear-resistant trash cans, and creating an enforceable rule (Florida Administrative Code 68A.4001[3]) in 2004 that prohibits unfavorable actions that attract bears, including allowing bears access to garbage. Our objective in this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of 2 types of trash cans equipped to prevent access by bears. The trash cans were tested in 2 residential communities in Florida: Glenwood and Willow Bend. Results from this study will help the FWC understand the effectiveness of bear-resistant trash cans in reducing human–bear conflicts, an integral factor in managing bears in increasingly humandominated areas. Southeastern Naturalist M.A. Barrett, D.J. Telesco, S.E. Barrett, K.M. Widness, and E.H. Leone 2014 Vol. 13, No. 1 28 Field-Site Description The study areas were located in occupied bear range within residential communities of Florida (Fig. 1). Glenwood, a neighborhood of more than 400 residents located in the city of Deland, in Volusia County, is located near the largest subpopulation of Florida Black Bears. This Ocala/St. Johns subpopulation was estimated in 2002 at more than 1200 bears (Simek et al. 2005). Willow Bend, a neighborhood of approximately 485 residents in Fort Walton Beach in Okaloosa County, borders Eglin Air Force Base. Willow Bend is proximate to the Eglin subpopulation of bears, one of the smallest in the state, estimated in 2002 at around 100 bears (Simek et al. 2005). Within a 2.5-km radius (≈20 km2) of Glenwood, land cover was predominantly forested upland (46%), forested wetland (14%), agricultural land (13%), and urban area (9%). An equivalent area around the Willow Bend neighborhood was primarily forested upland (31%), forested wetlands (26%), and urban area (37%). Land-cover data were summarized from a statewide GIS map layer (Kautz et al. 2007). Methods We tested the effectiveness of 2 types of bear-resistant trash cans. Commercially manufactured bear-resistant polycarts (BearSaver, Ontario, CA) were tested in Glenwood. The polycarts have rollers and a capacity of 95 gal; they have a bear-resistant latch and steel-reinforced side rails, back corners, and lid (Fig. 2). A polycart costs about $150 more than a common residential trash can (approximately $50) of similar size. We distributed polycarts to 119 homes in Glenwood in February 2011. Modified residential trash cans (Fig. 2) were tested in Willow Bend. We modified 95-gal capacity rolling residential trash cans in an attempt to make them bear-resistant by attaching two metal gate hasps near the front corners of the cans. One part of each hasp was attached to the side of the can, the other to the lid. A metal dog-leash clip or carabiner was used to secure the gate hasps and lock the lid closed. The hardware cost approximately $20 per trash can. We modified trash cans at 250 homes in the Willow Bend community in March 2011. Limited resources allowed for only one type of bear-resistant trash can to be tested for each study area. Glenwood was issued the more expensive polycarts because the County indicated an opportunity might be possible for government assistance to help fund the program in the future. For residents in both study areas, using bear-resistant trash cans was a voluntary process, though we ensured entire streets were issued a polycart for Glenwood or modified hardware for Willow Bend. Therefore, no gaps occurred between neighbors having bear-resistant trashcans. Survey data Before bear-resistant polycarts were issued or hardware was installed, FWC staff canvassed the neighborhoods and met with many residents to discuss ongoing human–bear interactions and ask about their knowledge of how to prevent human– Southeastern Naturalist 29 M.A. Barrett, D.J. Telesco, S.E. Barrett, K.M. Widness, and E.H. Leone 2014 Vol. 13, No. 1 bear conflicts. To reduce confounding factors that might skew results, we advised residents to secure their trash until the morning of garbage pick-up, secure pet food and other animal feed at night, and keep their property clear of all other potential attractants (e.g., unclean barbeque grills) to bears. We collected survey data through telephone interviews with residents at least 18 years of age. We conducted a pre-intervention survey (i.e., before receiving polycarts or hardware) and two follow-up surveys (at 6 and 12 months post-intervention) Figure 1. Map depicting study areas in Florida where bear-resistant trash cans were used. At Willow Bend (inset: 1 cm = 100 m), modified hardware for residential trash cans was installed; at Glenwood (inset: 1 cm = 500 m), commercial polycarts were issued. Primary range (contiguous area with documented evidence of female bears and reproduction) and secondary range (areas in which bears consistently occur with infrequent evidence of females or reproduction) were delineated in 2004. Southeastern Naturalist M.A. Barrett, D.J. Telesco, S.E. Barrett, K.M. Widness, and E.H. Leone 2014 Vol. 13, No. 1 30 for both study areas (Table 1). The pre-intervention survey consisted of 12 openended questions without response choices. Some questions depended on an answer to a previous question, so some respondents were not asked all 12 questions. Questions addressed a range of human–bear interactions and residents’ attitudes before they received polycarts or hardware. The 6-month and 12-month post-intervention surveys each consisted of 16 dichotomous, rating, or contingency questions. We coded the answers to most survey questions as: 0 = not applicable, 1= yes, 2 = no. The 6-month surveys were conducted between September–November 2011, and the 12-month surveys were conducted between February–March 2012 for each study area. We attempted to contact residents twice for each survey. Due to logistical constraints (e.g., residents moved or decided not to be interviewed), the post-intervention questions were not always given to the same respondents who answered the pre-intervention questions, though the majority of respondents were the same from beginning to end of the study (Glenwood = 59%, Willow Bend = 98%). Also, Question 9 in the post-survey (Table 1) was only asked of Glenwood residents because many of them stated their trash cans were damaged by waste service personnel prior to bear-resistant trash cans being issued. Therefore, we wanted to distinguish whether trash cans were damaged by bears or by waste service personnel. Statistical analyses We performed statistical analyses separately for each study area, Glenwood (polycarts) and Willow Bend (modified trash cans), using SAS v9.3 (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC). To compare differences between time periods in the percentage of people who reported experiencing a human–bear interaction or bears accessing trash cans, we built generalized linear mixed models assuming a binary distribution; models included time period as a fixed factor and residence of respondent as a random variable to account for repeated surveys at each residence. To test Figure 2. A commercial bear-resistant polycart (left) and a residential trash can (right) with hardware attached to make it more bear-resistant. Inset: close-up of hardware on residential trash can. Southeastern Naturalist 31 M.A. Barrett, D.J. Telesco, S.E. Barrett, K.M. Widness, and E.H. Leone 2014 Vol. 13, No. 1 for changes in the frequency of human–bear interactions over time, we performed a chi-square analysis across the 3 time periods (pre-test, 6 months use of bearresistant trash container, 12 months use of bear-resistant trash container) and 8 frequency categories (daily, every few days, weekly, monthly, every few months, every 6 months, every 12 months, and never). We used the SURVEYMEANS procedure to estimate response rates and the standard error of the mean. Human–bear interactions reported in surveys (Table 1) that were described in analyses above included two general categories: bears accessing trash and all other types combined. To gain understanding as to why bears might remain in residential Table 1. Survey questions concerning human–bear interactions and use of bear-resistant trash cans for Glenwood and Willow Bend study areas in Florida. Pre-intervention questions took place before bearresistant trash cans were issued, and post-intervention questions consisted of interviews 6 months and 12 months after bear-resistant trash cans were issued. Pre-intervention survey 1. Have you experienced any bear interactions on your property? 2. What types of bear interactions have you experienced? 3. How often have you experienced bear interactions? 4. Have you ever contacted FWC about your bear interactions? 5. Did FWC send you any information regarding your bear interactions? 6. What measures were offered by FWC to prevent future bear interactions? 7. Did you follow the advice given by FWC staff? 8. What measures have you taken to deter bears? 9. Were the measures effective at reducing your bear interactions? 10. Are you still personally experiencing bear problems? A) If yes, please describe the problems. B) If no, how long did it take the bear problems to end? Post-intervention survey 1. Have you experienced any bear interactions at your property since receiving your bear-resistant trash can? 2. What types of bear interactions have you experienced since receiving your bear-resistant trash can? 3. How often have you experienced bear interactions since receiving your bear-resistant trash can? 4. Have you contacted FWC about your bear interactions since your bear-resistant trash can has arrived? 5. Besides the bear-resistant trash can, what measures you have taken to deter bears. 6. Were those measures effective at reducing your bear interactions? 7. How effective have the bear-resistant trash cans been in reducing your bear interactions? 8. How easy is it for you to use the bear-resistant trash can? 9. Did you experience any differences in how your bear-resistant trash can was serviced compared to your previous trash can? A) If yes, describe the differences. 10. Would you recommend a bear-resistant trash can to other individuals to resolve bear interactions? 11. Should bear-resistant trash cans be provided to residents in your area? A) If yes, would you be willing to contribute toward that extra cost? B) If yes, what percentage or total amount would you be willing to contribute toward that extra annual cost? 12. Should your local government require trash to be secured from wildlife, such as bears? 13. Does your area need more education/outreach about bears? Southeastern Naturalist M.A. Barrett, D.J. Telesco, S.E. Barrett, K.M. Widness, and E.H. Leone 2014 Vol. 13, No. 1 32 areas equipped with bear-resistant trash cans, we separated the combined human– bear interactions into 3 categories and examined them with descriptive statistics for each study area. Category 1 was defined as a bear trying unsuccessfully to open a bear-resistant container (i.e., polycart or hardware-modified trash can). Category 2 included observations of bears occurring on a resident’s property regardless of behavior type (e.g., feeding at wildlife feeders, causing property damage, entering a residential building). Category 3 included bears roaming within the neighborhood viewed by a resident, but the bear was not on that resident’s property nor was it reported to exhibit behaviors from Categories 1 or 2. Results We successfully completed 107 telephone surveys in the Glenwood study, including pre-polycart (n = 39), 6 months polycart use (n = 37), and 12 months polycart use (n = 31) surveys. Of the 119 polycarts distributed to residents, these surveys represent 33%, 31%, and 26%, respectively, for pre-test, 6-month, and 12-month survey periods. In Willow Bend, 139 telephone surveys were successfully completed, including pre-test (n = 66), 6 months bear-resistant modified can use (n = 51), and 12 months bear-resistant modified can use (n = 22) surveys. Of the 250 trash cans modified for residents, these surveys represent 26%, 20%, and 9%, respectively, for pre-test, 6-month, and 12-month survey periods. Glenwood The percentage of people reporting human–bear interactions decreased across the 3 time periods (F2,104 = 10.23, P < 0.001). Human–bear interactions declined sharply from pre-intervention to 6 months post-intervention, and although interactions rose 12 months post-intervention, they remained lower than at preintervention (Fig. 3). Reports of bears accessing trash cans decreased between the pre-intervention and both 6- and 12-month periods (F2,104 = 18.31, P < 0.001; Fig. 3). After 12 months, bears still tried to breach polycarts (Category 1: 18.2%), and the percentage of encounters in the yard (Category 2) decreased from 85% to 32%. Survey reports of bears in the area (Category 3) remained nearly the same (23.1% pre-intervention; 20.7% at 12 months post-intervention). The frequency of human–bear interactions differed across the 3 time periods (χ2 12 = 48.64, P < 0.001). During the pre-intervention time period, 28.2% of residents reported seeing bears at least every few days; this dropped to 3.2% by the 12-month survey (Table 2). For the pre-intervention period, only 5.1% of respondents reported that they had seen no bears, whereas during the 6-month post-intervention period, that percentage increased to 70.3%. But the percentage decreased to 38.7% in the 12-month survey (Table 2). After 12 months of having polycarts, 90.3 ± 4.64% of respondents felt that polycarts were very effective in reducing human–bear interactions, 96.8 ± 2.77% would recommend the polycarts to others to reduce human–bear interactions, and 61.3 ± 7.64% thought the polycarts were easy to use. A minority of respondents (3.2%) indicated that polycarts were difficult to handle by waste-service Southeastern Naturalist 33 M.A. Barrett, D.J. Telesco, S.E. Barrett, K.M. Widness, and E.H. Leone 2014 Vol. 13, No. 1 personnel in that seven (6%) polycarts were treated roughly and damaged and could no longer be used. Furthermore, in the 12-month survey, 90.3 ± 4.64% of respondents agreed that polycarts should be provided to residents in their area, 25.9% said they would be willing to share 11–50% of the cost of the polycart, and 32.1 ± 7.73% would not be willing to share any cost. Finally, 61.3 ± 7.65% of Table 2. Frequency of human–bear interactions during pre-intervention and 6- and 12-month postintervention in the Glenwood and Willow Bend neighborhoods. Bear-resistant polycarts were used in Glenwood, and modified residential trash cans were used in Willow Bend. Glenwood Willow Bend Frequency Pre- 6-mo 12-mo Pre- 6-mo 12-mo Daily 10.3 2.7 3.2 18.2 5.9 0.0 Every few days 17.9 0.0 0.0 28.8 3.9 0.0 Weekly 15.4 2.7 9.7 4.5 5.9 4.5 Monthly 17.9 5.4 3.2 7.6 17.6 13.6 Every few months 17.9 10.8 19.4 0.0 17.6 4.5 Every six months 0.0 8.1 25.8 3.0 11.8 0.0 Every 12 months 15.4 0.0 0.0 7.6 0.0 9.1 Never 5.1 70.3 38.7 30.3 37.3 68.2 Figure 3. Percentage (±SE) of respondents experiencing human–bear interactions and bears in garbage across survey periods (pre-intervention and 6- and 12-month post-intervention) in Glenwood, FL. Pre-intervention refers to responses prior to issuing bear-resistant polycarts. Similar letters are not significantly dif ferent (P > 0.05) for each response type. Southeastern Naturalist M.A. Barrett, D.J. Telesco, S.E. Barrett, K.M. Widness, and E.H. Leone 2014 Vol. 13, No. 1 34 respondents thought local government should require that trash be secured from wildlife, such as bears, and 45.2 ± 7.81 % said that their area needed more public education/outreach about bears. Willow Bend The percentage of people who experienced human–bear interactions decreased across the 3 time periods (F2,136 = 4.98, P = 0.008), as did the number of people who observed bears accessing garbage cans (F2,136 = 12.39, P < 0.001) (Fig. 4). A decrease was evident for bears accessing garbage after 6 months, but not until 12 months was there a decline detected in human–bear interactions (Fig. 4). Some respondents (16.2%) in the 12-month post-intervention survey reported that a bear unsuccessfully attempted to breach the trash can (Category 1). Between the pre-intervention and 12-month survey, the number of bears reported in the yard (Category 2) decreased from 40.5% to 15.8%, and the number of bears in the area (Category 3) decreased from 24.4% to 4.6%. The frequency of human–bear interactions differed across the 3 time periods (χ2 12 = 44.08, P < 0.001). During the pre-intervention time period, 47% of residents reported seeing bears at least every few days; this had dropped to <10% by 6 Figure 4. Percentage (±SE) of respondents experiencing human–bear interactions and bears in garbage across survey periods (pre-intervention and 6- and 12-month post-intervention) in Willow Bend, FL. Pre-survey refers to responses prior to installing bear-resistant hardware to residential trash cans. Similar letters are not significantly different (P > 0.05) for each response type. Southeastern Naturalist 35 M.A. Barrett, D.J. Telesco, S.E. Barrett, K.M. Widness, and E.H. Leone 2014 Vol. 13, No. 1 months and to zero by 12 months post–hardware installation (Table 2). Moreover, the percentage of residents indicating that they never saw a bear increased from 38% before receiving the hardware to 68% by 12 months post-intervention. After 12 months of having hardware-modifed trash cans, 72.2 ± 9.28% of respondents reported that the hardware was effective in reducing the number of human–bear interactions, 90.9 ± 5.99% of respondents said that they would recommend the hardware to other residents having bear problems, and 68.2 ± 9.71% thought the hardware modified trash cans were easy to use. Furthermore, in the 12-month survey, 95.0 ± 4.77% of respondents thought hardware modified trash cans should be provided to residents, 77.78 ± 9.63% of respondents said they would be willing to share the extra cost for the hardware, and of those respondents 85.7 ± 7.47% would be willing to contribute at least 60% of the cost; 11.0 ± 7.28% would not be willing to share any cost. Finally, the majority of respondents (72.7 ± 9.28%) felt that their local government should require that trash be secured from wildlife, such as bears, and 63.6 ± 10.0% believed that their area needed more outreach/education about bears. Discussion The prevalence of bears frequenting urban and suburban areas is a growing concern in Florida as human populations increase, bear ranges expand, and bear habitat is lost or encroached upon because of human activity (FWC 2012). An important action that can address this issue is the elimination of anthropogenic food sources that attract Black Bears to human developments (e.g., Graber 1989). The dramatic decrease in the number of observations of bears in garbage in both of our study areas strongly suggests the long-term efficacy of the 2 methods for keeping bears out of the garbage. Although survey reports for both study areas were relatively low, our results were further supported by independent data. Specifically, the total number of bear incidents reported to the FWC (independent of survey-related calls) decreased in both areas combined from 52 one year prior to the study to 16 after issuing bear-resistant trashcans during the study, a 69.2% decrease (FWC, Tallahassee, Fl, unpubl. data). The number of human–bear interactions increased between the 6-month and 12-month surveys in Glenwood; however, it was still significantly less than that prior to issuing polycarts. These increased human–bear interactions in Glenwood could be a factor of bear ecology. However, it is presumably a result of bears that remained in the area or yard because they had been conditioned to forage around residential areas (especially if natural foods were scarce) or because other unnatural foods remained available. For example, wildlife feeders or unsecured pet foods would entice bears to return to the area and while in the area possibly attempt to break into polycarts as well. Another reason could be the bear population is at a higher density around Glenwood compared to Willow Bend, so the replacement rate is higher as bears continue to visit the neighborhood in search of food even if trash is unavailable. Also, people may have become complacent and stopped using their polycarts properly, so bears again visited those homes, increasing the number of Southeastern Naturalist M.A. Barrett, D.J. Telesco, S.E. Barrett, K.M. Widness, and E.H. Leone 2014 Vol. 13, No. 1 36 observations of bears. This result suggests the need for an all-or-none approach whereby all residents of a neighborhood must properly use bear-resistant trash cans to maintain the reduction in human–bear interactions over the long term. However, even if bear-resistant trash cans are 100% effective, bears will continue to enter neighborhoods if other easily accessible potential food items remain available, especially when natural foods (e.g., mast) are not abundant and bears are searching larger areas for sustenance (Beckmann and Berger 2003). Securing all potential food items is key to decreasing encounters with bears, but other actions can also help. For example, the FWC encourages residents to use nonlethal methods (e.g., loud noises, shouting, remote alarm systems) from a safe distance to scare bears out of their neighborhoods. But even these tactics will not be fully effective if garbage or other unnatural foods are not made inaccessible. Indeed, even bears driven off by potent nonlethal deterrents (e.g., dogs, rubber buckshot/slugs, bear spray) returned to residential areas within 1–2 months when anthropogenic food sources were still accessible (Beckmann and Berger 2004, Mazur 2010). Another management option is translocation of bears involved in conflicts, but it is not always viable, especially when a bear is habituated to humans and is food-conditioned (Annis 2007, Linnell et al. 1997). Translocated bears can create conflicts in the area in which they are released, return to the area in which they were captured, or be replaced by other bears that may also cause conflicts if attractants have not been removed (Annis 2007). Furthermore, translocated bears may roam for long distances after being displaced (e.g., Stratman et al. 2001) and cross roadways, increasing risks to themselves and motorists. Vehicle collisions can be a major mortality factor for translocated Black Bears (Comly-Gericke and Vaughan 1997, Eastridge and Clark 2001) and account for more than 80% of the known mortality in the Florida Black Bear population (FWC 2012). Vehicle collisions with large mammals can also have high social and economic costs associated with human injury or death and vehicle damage (Conover et al. 1995). Proactive measures (e.g., securing trash, electrical fencing, education) dealing with human behavior are much more efficient than reactive methods (e.g., aversive conditioning, relocation, euthanasia) in reducing human–bear incidents because changing or managing human behavior is more likely to provide longer-term solutions than managing a wildlife species alone (Baruch-Mordo et al. 2009). Spencer et al. (2007) reported that of the North American wildlife agencies surveyed in 39 states, almost 80% preferred to use garbage management, fines, or education as techniques for discouraging human–bear conflicts, followed by aversive conditioning (15%) and relocation (5%) of bears. Education on bear behavior and ecology is an important proactive measure for those who live in bear country and for those outside of typical bear habitat that may deal with dispersers or an expanding bear range. Increasing the level of public understanding can increase tolerance toward bears, especially those in people’s immediate surroundings or on their property (Kellert 1994, McCool and Braithwaite 1989). Education can also accentuate the message that not all bears in or near neighborhoods will lead to a conflict. Some Southeastern Naturalist 37 M.A. Barrett, D.J. Telesco, S.E. Barrett, K.M. Widness, and E.H. Leone 2014 Vol. 13, No. 1 bears may simply be habituated to human developments and commonly occur near roads or neighborhoods without causing human–bear conflicts (Hopkins et al. 2010). Finally, tolerance of bears by citizens can be established and elevated by experienced professionals (e.g., wildlife officials) who share knowledge with and express respect and concern for the person involved in a bear interaction (Madison 2008, Seimer et al. 2009). Unfortunately, the effectiveness of proactive measures is not the sole determinant of their acceptance. For example, opinions of Glenwood residents on the cost of the bear-resistant polycart were less positive than their attitudes toward using polycarts to reduce human–bear interactions on their property. Many respondents said they would not be willing to pay for a polycart, and those who would were reluctant to indicate a specific amount they would be willing to contribute. Some responses indicated this reluctance resulted mainly from fear that their answers would result in an extra monthly service charge. In 5 counties of Florida, waste-service companies charge an extra $5–$15 per month to service bear-resistant polycarts. Therefore, cost and individual financial situations might play a larger part in influencing the management tools (e.g., polycarts) used to alleviate human–bear interactions than would the effectiveness of the tools themselves. However, the modified hardware effectively reduced human–bear interactions and was a highly supported method by residents of Willow Bend, and thus may provide a more economical solution for those areas that cannot afford to purchase polycarts. The FWC is investigating methods of encouraging availability and use of bearresistant polycarts in several counties. Using proceeds generated from sales of “conserve wildlife” license plates, the FWC has provided funds to waste-service providers in areas where human–bear interactions are frequent. In addition, the FWC will work with waste-service providers to ensure proper servicing of bearresistant trash cans because improper servicing caused irreparable damage to 7 bear-resistant trash cans in the Glenwood study. Funds are being used either to cover additional costs the waste-service provider would charge customers to service bear-resistant polycarts or to share the cost of purchasing bear-resistant polycarts. Those efforts will be evaluated to determine their effectiveness in increasing the use of bear-resistant polycarts. Although positive results were found in the current study, further research is necessary. Intensity and type of human–bear interactions and the feasibility of issuing bear-resistant trash cans may be different in other areas of Florida. Inference can be expanded by including more replicate neighborhoods (with corresponding control sites) near other bear populations in the state. Also, considering other factors, such as food availability, seasonality, and bear ecology specific to the focal area, could aid in interpreting results of human–bear interactions (Gore et al. 2006). Nevertheless, outcomes from the current study provide important information on using proactive measures to reduce human–bear incidents and offer insights into human attitudes and behaviors toward those measures applied in residential areas of Florida. Southeastern Naturalist M.A. Barrett, D.J. Telesco, S.E. Barrett, K.M. Widness, and E.H. Leone 2014 Vol. 13, No. 1 38 Acknowledgments Florida residents funded this project through their voluntary purchase of “conserve wildlife” license plates. The Wildlife Foundation of Florida granted (grant number 0708- 05) a portion of the proceeds of the license plate to the FWC to purchase the bear-resistant polycarts for this project. Multiple interns from Florida State University and the University of Central Florida collected information on bear activity and surveyed residents for this study. M. Orlando and C. Connolly met with Glenwood residents on multiple occasions throughout the study and prepared and delivered polycarts. Lowe’s of Gulf Breeze, FL, graciously sold to the FWC at cost the hardware used to secure trash cans. Multiple FWC staff and Eglin Air Force Base personnel attached the hardware to the cans and monitored the Willow Bend project area. We thank W. McCown, B. Scheick, B. Stys and B. Crowder for their comments on earlier drafts of this paper. Literature Cited Annis, K.M. 2007. The impact of translocation on nuisance Florida Black Bears. M.Sc. Thesis. University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Baruch-Mordo, S., K.R. 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