HOA votes to require Wingfield North homeowners to use 'bear-resistant' trash cans

Policy aimed at protecting homeowners from bears

LONGWOOD, Fla. - For the first time, a Central Florida neighborhood has created a policy aimed at protecting homeowners from bears.

The Wingfield North homeowner's association voted for the unprecedented change in an attempt to try to prevent another bear attack after a resident was recently mauled. The attack is considered the worst bear attack in state history, said HOA board president Jack Bitzer.

[RELATED: Victim: 'Bear was trying to kill me' | Bear attack puts neighborhood on edge]

In December, a bear attacked 54-year-old Susan Chalfant as she was walking her two dogs. Florida Wildlife Commission experts thought the bear might have been trying to protect her cubs. Officials have always said that bears can be kept out of neighborhoods by limiting their food supply -- like open trash cans.

That's why Bitzer said the Wingfield HOA voted unanimously Monday night for a new policy that requires all homeowners to use "bear-resistant" trash cans that have locks on them. It also banned beekeeping and feeding of wild animals.

It's requiring people to clean garbage and keep food and smelly items out of their cars because bears often break into cars looking for food.

If someone does not follow these new rules, the HOA could fine him or her said Bitzer. It's a warning letter for the first violation and the fines can go up to $1,000.

However, to try to make sure homeowners follow these new rules, the HOA has decided to pay for the cost of these new "bear-resistant" trash cans for the first year, said Bitzer.

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