For immediate release: April 5, 2017
Media contact: Andrew Walker, Foundation President & CEO, 941 809-7805 or awalker@wildlifeflorida.org
hotos available

Fish & Wildlife Foundation Awards $345,000 in Florida Conservation Grants

Bear-proof trash container grant
“The Foundation has awarded more than $425,000 this year to help local communities buy bear-proof trash containers, to protect both bears and homeowners. ”
Photo Credit FWC.

Key Largo FL (April 5, 2017) – – Children, bears and birds were the primary beneficiaries of $345,000 in conservation grants given out this week by the nonprofit Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida (FWFF).

Meeting on Key Largo, the FWFF Board of Directors approved a $100,000 grant to help local communities purchase bear-resistant trash cans for homeowners. This follows the Foundation’s 2016 grant of $325,000 for bear-resistant cans, which was matched by a $500,000 commitment by the State of Florida. Human-bear conflict is increased when food is in garbage cans that bears can open, said Foundation Board Chair Richard A. Corbett, in explaining the Foundation’s commitment to this program.

“Local communities and homeowners across Florida are eager to upgrade their trash receptacles to reduce human-bear conflict,” Corbett said, “but the funds are not always available. Having the Fish & Wildlife Foundation share those costs helps accelerate this program.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) administers the program and is using Foundation funds to provide financial incentives for communities to sign on.

The Foundation also awarded $5,000 to fund the land survey and engineering plan for a proposed orphan bear cub rehabilitation facility to be built in the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. The facility will house young Florida black bears unable to survive in the wild. Most cubs in Florida are orphaned when mother bears are killed by vehicles or removed due to risks to public safety. Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo (TLPZ) offers their veterinarian services free of charge to evaluate the bears taken in for rehabilitation.

The Foundation also awarded $15,000 to help address the alarming national decline in children’s outdoor play and recreation. Recent studies indicate youth in the United States now spend more than 50 hours/week indoors with electronic media. The funds will be applied to a larger effort to gather data, communicate the importance of nature in hildhood development, and create outdoor programs that reach a broader and more diverse public.

The largest grant awarded this week – for $225,000 – is for start-up management of 16 “critical wildlife areas” established in November by FWC.

Most of these sites host important nesting colonies of shorebirds, sea birds and wading birds. Many have experienced high levels of past human disturbance, leading to their designation as sanctuaries, said Foundation President and CEO Andrew Walker.

“The few minutes a plover or heron is frightened away from its nest by an over-eager photographer or a boat passing too closely can be enough time to kill unprotected eggs in the heat of summer,” Walker said. “The Foundation grant will help FWC post these critical wildlife areas and hire full-time and seasonal biologists to monitor these sites, collect information on nesting success, and educate the public.

The majority of grant monies came from the “Conserve Wildlife” specialty license plate fund managed by the Foundation. From every purchase of a Conserve Wildlife license plate – which includes the image of a Florida black bear – the Foundation receives $25 for conservation.

The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida was created in 1994 to support the FWC and other public and private partners. The Foundation has raised and given away more than $25 million to support conservation, fishing, hunting and outdoor education for children, adolescents and adults.

About the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida

The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida was created in 1994 to support the FWC and other public and private conservation partners. The Foundation has raised and given away more than $25 million to support conservation, fishing, hunting and outdoor education for children, adolescents and adults. More information can be found at FishWildlifeflorida.org.