A “Bear” Necessity: Orange County Residents Embrace Bear-Resistant Roll Carts

From an article on OCFL.net.

It’s not uncommon for Apopka residents Steven and Jennifer Hamilton to have their trash become a buffet for bears in their neighborhood. Bears’ noses are more sensitive than a bloodhound and they are frequently drawn to curbside garbage.

“Our trash is torn up by bears at least once per month,” Jennifer Hamilton said. “We understand that we share the habitat with bears and want to encourage them to stay in the nature preserve area and to eat healthy plants and berries … not unhealthy garbage.”

That is why the Hamiltons, along with other northern Apopka residents, have ordered bear-resistant roll carts. A little more than 10,000 households in Northwest unincorporated Orange County are in the Bear Management Area. Those residents are now offered bear-resistant roll carts for $50.

The 95-gallon bear roll-carts have a special gravity lock mechanism that makes them work seamlessly with automated trash pickup. Residents who have these bear carts do not incur any additional solid waste fees.

The roll carts were recently dropped off to some of the residents by Orange County District 2 Commissioner Bryan Nelson and County Utilities staff. They also provided hands-on demonstrations on how the roll cart works.

“Orange County Government was delighted to be the recipient of a $200,000 matching grant program from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and we are providing a $25,000 match,” Commissioner Nelson said. “Right now, we have ordered 910 carts and about 110 residents have expressed interest in using them. Bear carts are good for the bears and good for people. I hope that more Apopka residents take advantage of this opportunity.”

Bear-resistant roll carts are pricey – each one costs $245. However, residents only have to pay $50 for a reduced service fee thanks to the grant.  Also, the carts are not “owned” by residents – they are property of Orange County to be used by the property owner.

“Only Orange County Solid Waste residential customers in the Bear Management Area are eligible for a bear-resistant roll cart,” said Allan Cole, Orange County Utilities Supervisor. “However, we encourage all residents to be ‘bear aware’ and not leave pet food on the back porch, know that bird feeders can attract bears and bring garbage out to the curb in the early morning – not at night.”

Purchasing the bear-resistant roll carts is voluntary. Homeowners can choose to keep their existing roll carts secure (in the garage as an example) and place them at the curb between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. the day of pickup – not overnight when bears typically seek food.

For information, including an online application and to see if you reside in the Bear Management area, visit www.ocfl.net/BearCarts, or call 407-836-6601 or email Solid.Waste@ocfl.net.

Photo Caption: District 2 Commissioner Bryan Nelson shows Apopka resident 10-year-old Aidan Evelyn how to use the bear-resistant roll cart.