If we were at the zoo we’d be separated by a 10-foot-deep trench and probably a fence. But here at Holley by the Sea we and the bears live in close quarters… and that’s not good. There is good news however, though our people population keeps growing, there is a way to help our growing bear population thrive, in spite of all the people. The answer is Bear-Wise. As many of you know it’s a Florida Wildlife Commission initiative and one element of the program helps keep bears from getting an easy meal by diving into our garbage.
Bears, in the wild, are very antisocial. Left to their own devices if we crossed paths with them, say in Washington State, they’d run from us. That’s not always the case for us here, however. Many of our bears have become accustomed to humans and that’s not good and I’ll explain why. Bears have a sense of smell almost 10 times more acute than dogs and we know how well dogs can sniff out treats. So, when we put what’s left of our dinners in the trash the bears invariably can find that savory meal and most times they are perfectly content to live off our scraps. That is not good for either the bears or us. When the black bear knows where to get free food he/she will become very comfortable being around us and they will lose that natural tendency to run. They hang around. They get very comfortable living among us. When that happens pretty much only bad things happen. First off, our diet, as bad as it may be for us, is even worse for the bears. They should not eat our food. But it gets worse. Bears can become aggressive and they can also be indiscriminately destructive. Bob Hutchison related a story to me just recently that many of his young, expensive fruit trees had been destroyed in his backyard because his neighborhood bear wanted fruit for dessert that night. The bear took the fruit but he left little of the young trees behind. Not good. Some of you may have seen the recent TV clips of the bear up on one family’s roof as filmed by an SRC deputy patrolling through the neighborhood. How would you like to come home and be greeted by that?! For those of you that have had a bear-human interaction I know, you know that it isn’t a fun experience, generally. So, what do we do?
HBTS has been the fortunate recipient of a state grant to install locking devices on our garbage cans. The plan is to install one latching hasp on both sides of your garbage can to keep bears from opening the lid and helping themselves to dinner. The program, our own HBTS Bear-Wise Project, has several benefits, I believe;
• The program will cost HBTS nothing. Homeowners will be asked to spend zero dollars to implement this fix.
• State grant money will cover the cost of the hasp hardware and the state will even buy the hardware and deliver it to us so we handle no monies, always a simpler answer for us.
• Placing the hasps on the garbage can lid is a very simple DIY process, but if that is a hardship for any reason, HBTS residents can request assistance from our maintenance staff and we’ll help with the installation.
• Our project will help us comply with the Santa Rosa Bear Ordinance which requires that we isolate our trash from the bears.
We structured our grant request so that the maximum number of homes might add this hardware, or ‘harden’ their cans, to prevent bear intrusion. The State would tell us that in order for a program to work, most all of the residences must keep bears out of the trash. In our case we’ve budgeted for up to 3700 homes to get hasp hardware. So, this is a big project and it will need your support.
In closing, I want to thank all our HBTS homeowners for their understanding of why this is an important effort, one of those ‘big deals’. It will succeed or fail based on our commitment to modify our trash cans and for that effort I ask for your support. You will get future notifications from the association when the hardware arrives and when it’s ready for you to pick up, complete with DIY instructions. If you have any questions about how we’re proceeding please call me or April Salazar at the front office and we’ll answer your question or get an answer for you. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and all your families. Have a safe and joyous holiday.