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Friday, August 7, 2015

Waterton Biosphere Reserve offers new bear-resistant garbage bin program


Food habituated bears often lead to problem bears, as they can be dangerous in their attempt to get food in and around humans
Spencer Rettler photo

Waterton Biosphere Reserve

When bears find garbage and other unnatural food sources in a yard, it may lead to a food conditioned bear. Over time, this bear may associate ‘food’ with ‘humans’ and may become very bold and dangerous in an attempt to get food in and around people. Bears drawn into the yard by garbage may then be tempted to stick around for pet food, fruit trees, garden, compost, livestock, grain, or any number of attractants in the yard site.

Animal feed for pets, domestic animals, or for wild animals like birds are all attractants to bears. Storing feed in a bear-resistant container has the potential to reduce human-bear conflicts. Waterton Biosphere Reserve photo

In southwestern Alberta, 80% of all black bear incidents reported to the Government of Alberta in 2014 were related to attractants. Of these incidents, 46% were related to garbage. These conflicts come with financial costs and increased safety risk for people. They also impact large carnivore populations, as animals involved in conflict may be relocated or killed. To mitigate these damages and costs, Waterton Biosphere Reserve (WBR) has started a bear-resistant garbage bin program for both garbage and small feed storage.

The program aims to reduce household garbage, pet, and livestock feed as an attractant to both black and grizzly bears by offering bear-resistant storage options. Long term, WBR hopes these efforts will help reduce human-large carnivore conflicts, and associated costs, on farms, ranches, acreages, and in hamlets.


Bear-resistant bins have a bear-resistant latching mechanism, a steel reinforced lid or rim, and impact-resistant plastic. 
Toter/Wastequip photo

What makes bear-resistant garbage bins different than regular garbage bins?

A certified bear-resistant garbage bin has been tested by captive grizzly bears at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in Montana and have been approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. The bins offered by WBR are made by Toter. They are double walled poly, have a steel-reinforced rim and a self-latching mechanism that bears cannot open. Like most garbage bins, they are on wheels so they’re easy to move around for either garbage or animal feed storage. They are also warrantied for up to three years.

How does the program work?

WBR received grant funds to help subsidize bin costs. Bear-resistant garbage bins will be available for purchase at a reduced price - $90 for 64 gallon bins and $100 for 95 gallon bins. A 64 gallon bin can hold about three large garbage bags. Remember, if the lid cannot latch, the bin is not bear-resistant. Purchase a bin that is the right size for your needs.

The cost-sharing program is offered to people that live on farms, ranches, acreages, and hamlets in Cardston County and the municipalities of Pincher Creek, Ranchland, and Willow Creek. If you are interested in learning more or purchasing a bin, please visit the website at http://www.watertonbiosphere.com/bear-resistantbins or make a call.

If you live in Cardston County, call Jeff Bectell at 403 653 2219. 

If you live in the municipalities of Pincher Creek, Willow Creek, and Ranchland, call Tony Bruder at 403 627 5425. You can also email WBR at info@watertonbiosphere.com.

If you live in the Crowsnest Pass, bear-resistant garbage programming is already available. Please contact Elizabeth with Crowsnest Conservation BearSmart at 403 563 0058 or Christy Pool, Crowsnest Pass BearSmart Association President, ‎at 403 563 8723.

The Waterton Biosphere Reserve is a non-profit organization that strives to achieve a balance between conserving biological diversity and promoting sustainable use. You can read more about the Waterton Biosphere Reserve on their website at www.watertonbiosphere.com.

This project was undertaken with the financial support of Government of Canada as part of the National Conservation Plan, and Alberta Environment and Parks.

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