Bears in Heathrow prompt trash rule changes

Article Courtesy of News 13

By Jeff Allen 

Published December 20, 2014

HEATHROW -- Just two weeks ago a woman in the Heathrow subdivision, near Lake Mary, was bitten by a black bear while walking her dog. We learned Heathrow’s Homeowners Association board is mailing letters out to its more than 2,000 residents this week, detailing new rules on how residents must now get rid of their trash.


“We had to do something. There are so many bears in here,” said Heathrow resident Brenda McClure.

When the bear attack happened in Heathrow, garbage pick-up was the next day. Many residents had already put their garbage out to the curb. Fish and wildlife officials said garbage is one of the biggest things that attracts bears into a neighborhood.

But under the new rules, a Heathrow resident said they are instructed to wait to put garbage out until 5 a.m. the day trash is collected – unless they have a bear-proof trashcan.

Bear traps were set up in Heathrow after a woman was attacked by a bear while walking her dog earlier this month.

Those cans are designed to seal off garbage from bears and discourage them from going into neighborhoods. The cans cost about $200 and require an extra $60 waste pick-up fee per year. Seminole County offered to pay up to 500 residents a fifth of the cans’ cost , but we checked and county officials said only about 300 people have taken them up on their offer.

Heathrow resident Brenda McClure now uses one of the bear-resistant cans.

“I know that $180, $200 is a lot of money, but I don’t want to see people getting hurt and I don’t want to see the bears getting hurt. And I just think it’s an option we can all do, and a big step in the right direction,” said McClure.

In nearby Wingfield North in Longwood, where a woman was mauled by a bear last December, the HOA enacted strict rules back in the summer. The HOA even paid for bear-proof cans for all 150 of their residents.

We’re told other neighborhoods in the area are also considering adopting similar rules.