City testing bear-resistant residential garbage bins

Grizzly bear. Guide Outfitters Association of BC photo
Grizzly bear. Guide Outfitters Association of BC photo

The City of Prince George is launching a pilot project aimed at making garbage bins less attractive to the resident bear population.

The city has purchased 300 bear-resistant garbage bins and will be swapping them for the normal garbage bins this coming spring. The city is working with the Northern Bear Awareness Society and the BC Conservation Service to select an appropriate area of the city in which to launch the project.

“As with any pilot project, the city is going to be monitoring the success of these bins and listening to feedback from residents,” said Sean LeBrun, Manager of Parks and Solid Waste. “We will also continue to work with the Northern Bear Awareness Society and BC Conservation Society to identify the areas of the city that will most benefit from these bins due to a particularly high volume of calls to the service centre about problems with bears.”

Although similar in size to a large-sized city garbage bin, the bear-resistant bins are more robustly designed in order to make them very difficult for a bear to compromise, but they are light enough not to be dangerous for humans to maneuver. The bins are certified bear-resistant by the interagency grizzly bear committee, and are fully compatible with the automated lift arms used by all city waste collection trucks.

The 95-gallon bins are automated and remain locked until they are almost fully inverted by a city vehicle during garbage collection. The locking mechanism is easy to unlock with one hand, while it prevents bears from opening the container with claws, paws, and teeth.

However, there is a substantial price difference between a bear-resistant bin ($235) and a regular, large-sized city bin ($70), which is part of the reason the bins are first being tested as a pilot project.

The city has already been deploying bear resistant bins at civic facilities throughout the city, particularly in areas such as along trails and the river, which are more likely to be frequented by bears. 

The city reminds residents that while bear-resistant containers can help reduce the number of bear-human interactions and bears that must be destroyed as a result, being bear smart begins with finding a sensible place to store garbage. Residents can learn more on the Wildsafe BC website.