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Virginia BearWise Community Cost-Share Program Application

BearWise Funding Background

Each year, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR), the Wildlife Division requests funding to assist towns, cities, and counties of the Commonwealth to reduce human-black bear interactions. Proposed projects should aim to secure or remove anthropogenic food sources, such as garbage, from being obtained by bears and must be maintained in working order by the applicant for a specified duration. This non-grant funding is made available as a cost-share; all applicants are required to contribute financially, in-kind, or a combination thereof, for a minimum 30% match of the total project costs.

Information for Applicants

  • Applicants are required to contact local DWR staff to discuss human-bear interactions including the proposed project, ordinances regarding attractant storage, and local bear population management (see provided map for District Biologist contact information)
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss proposed projects with garbage haulers, whether in-house or commercial, prior to submitting an application. All equipment must be compatible with agreements/contracts and garbage service vehicles.
  • Applicants are encouraged to propose projects that have a community-wide benefit.
  • HOA’s that are CIC certified (Common interest communities) can apply directly.
  • HOA’s that are not CIC certified may apply through their local government. Private individuals, businesses, and NGO’s are not eligible for this program.
  • As described within the cost-share agreement, successful applicants are required to maintain, repair, and/or replace all products or equipment under their control and ownership (dumpsters, retrofitted lids, electric fencing, residential rollout cans, etc.). Inspections by DWR staff can occur at any time and notification of failures will be provided.
  • First time applicants will be given priority.
  • Applicants previously awarded funding from DWR must demonstrate proper use, care, and maintenance of all equipment purchased with DWR cost-share funds in order to reapply.
  • Successful applicants are required to submit a 1-2-page project summary report to DWR and complete the project end questionnaire. The summary report and questionnaire are due no later than 30 days after completion of the project. This summary shall include: 1) A progress report on the status of the project, expenditures, partner organizations or assistance, and 2) Project completion date. The questionnaire will provide feedback to DWR about the applicant’s overall experience with the project from application process to implementation on the ground.
  • Requests for a time extension for project completion are considered on a case-by case basis. The funding recipient must provide a written request for time extension to DWR no later than 60 days prior to agreement expiration. The request must include: 1) Description of delays or challenges encountered and any remedial actions taken, and 2) A new project completion date. The request for time extension must be submitted to with the Subject Line: Project Time Extension Request. Project time extensions are not guaranteed approval. DWR will provide a written response to the request within 21 days of request receipt.
  • Awarded funding can only be used for the purchase of bear-resistant equipment, labor for modifying existing equipment or fabricating new equipment. Funds may not be used to maintain, repair, or replace equipment or products previously purchased with DWR cost share funds.
  • DWR has full discretion to award or deny funds.
  • Awarded funds are typically transferred electronically.
  • The application deadline is October 1, 2023.

Factors for Selection

Funding to reduce negative human-bear interactions can be awarded to any town, city, or county government in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Home owner’s associations (that are not CIC certified) and other non-government entities are requested to work with their local governments. DWR must be a good steward of the limited funding available, and seeks long-term and comprehensive solutions that have a high likelihood for success. Therefore, applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  1. Does the local government or HOA have an ordinance specific to bears requiring residents and businesses to secure all attractants? An ordinance pertaining to trash alone will not count.
  2. Have the proposed products or equipment (dumpsters, residential cans etc.) passed the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee’s bear-resistant product testing program? An updated list can be found here. Please state name of products and quantity you plan to purchase.
  3. If the answer to #2 is no or unknown, has Department of Wildlife Resources staff approved of the product or electric fence design and specifications? Please state name of products and quantity you plan to purchase.
  4. Do they provided bear conflict prevention information or outreach messages/links to bear prevention through
    • Social Media
    • Public Meetings
    • News/radio outlets
    • Flyers/other handouts
    • Direct Mailers
    • Other (Please Describe)
  5. Does the project include informational signage regarding human-bear conflict prevention or proper use of products or equipment at the site(s)? Please describe your signage.
  6. A minimum 30% match of total project cost is required for example: financial, in-kind (labor, materials, equipment), or combination of the two. Projects with greater than 39% total match will receive higher priority.
  7. Has the local government engaged other partners on this project? Contributions from NGO partners, state or federal agencies, residents, businesses, and/or other grants or donations can be included and will receive higher priority.


The application period has ended.