Grizzlies Test 'Bear Resistant' Containers to Help Reduce Conflicts with Humans

Can you imagine a 900 pound grizzly bear trying to break into your trash bin? They're encouraging that sort of thing in West Yellowstone.

This is a real food fight. These two Alaskan grizzlies competed to see which would get to test the trash bin with goodies inside. The 600 pound male, who is an expert at tearing open trash bins, dumpsters and coolers, finally gets a chance after his sister gets tired of trying.

"There's a really special food reward in there," Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center Facilities Manager Randy Gravatt said. "So the special food reward is going to be fish, it's going to be meat, it could be peanut butter."

Gravatt said the bears have tested more than a thousand trash and food containers from all over the country. Only 60% of them survive the grizzly test.

The tourists love to watch the contest. "It's an interesting idea to test these things because it's beneficial to the bears in the wild as well as campers out there," A visitor from Arizona, Dave Spiess said."

It really benefits homeowners who live in bear country. Communities outside the Park, but still in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have dealt with grizzly bears for years. And that's why many homeowners choose to use bear resistant containers.

But, the containers aren't certified until they go to the Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. Gravatt said it is the only testing facility of its kind in the world. "And we work with the IGBC, Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee in Missoula," he said.

There are eight bears at the Center. An Alaskan Coastal bear named Sam, who tops out at 900 pounds, rolled a 700 pound dumpster over and over and over.  It passed the test.

And, so did the crumpled black bin that was tested on this day. There were no large holes, so the bears lost the battle. But, they actually won, for human safety, and their wild cousins outside.

"..that's all about saving bears' lives," Gravatt said.

Human food rewards are one of the biggest causes of bear and human conflicts in the United States. But the Center recently tested and certified a container from Slovakia. It will now help reduce the conflicts there.

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