In keeping with its continuing effort to educate the public on living and traveling safely in bear country, the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center cooperates with state and federal agencies in the testing of bear-resistant food and garbage storage containers. Bears that learn to associate people with food often become dangerous and are ultimately killed or placed in captivity. Keeping bears out of human food and garbage is the best way to ensure their survival in the wild.
The testing procedures start with the manufacturer bringing their product to the GWDC. Then, it is placed in the bear habitat and baited with especially enticing foods. After that, the bears must try to get into the container for 60 minutes for it to be considered tested. If they are unable to open the container or obtain food from it, the container passes as “bear-resistant” and receives certification from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC). Containers that do not pass can be modified and re-tested at a later date. Containers that pass can be used to help prevent bear-human conflicts.
The protocol for testing was developed through a cooperative effort among Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, U.S. Forest Service, IGBC and the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center. At this time GWDC is the only facility approved for testing products for the IGBC bear-resistant products testing program. This testing protocol allows consumers, parks and municipalities to obtain products that they know will work to keep human food and garbage inaccessible to bears and keep them out of conflict with people.
It’s fascinating to watch the bears try to retrieve the reward inside the containers, and at the same time, visitors get an entertaining yet valuable lesson on recreating in bear country.
September 2015 – The GWDC received an AZA National Conservation Award for it’s Bear Resistant Product Testing program.