30 Jun

While looking around on the ‘net tonight, I came across this very interesting piece of information and wanted to share it with all my readers. Not that I relish being in Grizzly bear country with a hungry bear,or any bear for that matter, but, this new outdoor “goodie” looks to be something very worthwhile to have if you are in bear country. Enjoy the read!

Keeping cold ones cold when camping in grizzly bear country may be getting a bit easier.

New coolers from a Florida company and a business in Texas that have passed federal and state tests for resistance to grizzlies are the first to be mass-produced. So, local officials willing, adventurers with a boat or a pack animal hefty enough to carry a cooler no longer must hang it 10 feet off the ground to comply with food-storage rules in the backcountry that grizzlies inhabit.

Wildlife managers have long required that campers in grizzly territory keep food and beverages out of bears’ reach – in a vehicle, building or special locker; suspended from a tree or pole; or protected by portable electric fencing. The rule, which applies when campsites are unattended and in some places when campers are asleep, is intended to keep humans safe and bears healthy.

Hanging a cooler is an especially “significant project” at the start of a trip, when it’s full and can weigh 100 pounds, said outfitter Brett Todd, who puts clients on horses – and their gear on mules – for trips into Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.

Five orphaned and nuisance bears who make their home at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone tested the new coolers for a group called the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, which includes representatives from U.S. and Canadian wildlife agencies and from the states of Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington.

The bears beat and scratched at each cooler for an hour. Despite smelling the peanut butter and fish stored inside, they failed to break into the boxes, made of the same tough plastic used in kayaks. Even the 100-pound weights that human tormentors dropped on the boxes didn’t crack them open.

Short term, this was bad news for the bears: No treats.

But in the long term, the test results were as important for grizzlies as for humans. Bears that grow accustomed to finding food and beverages at human encampments are often declared a nuisance and eventually moved or even killed.

The hope is bear-resistant coolers will prevent more bears from learning that coolers can be sources of food. Even if bears can detect the smell of food, they are unlikely to stay interested in a cooler if they cannot break into it quickly, said Jack Rich, another Bob Marshall outfitter.

“It’s not about the smell, it’s about the reward,” Rich said of bears’ motivation, noting that campsite food preparation areas and cooks’ clothing have food odors. “We’re not going to eliminate the smells associated with food. We have to make sure we don’t have the bears associating that smell with a good reward.”

Note: This story is compliments of the Spokane Spokesmans-Review


Posted by on June 30, 2009 in Idaho Wildlife Stories



  1. Shoreman

    July 1, 2009 at 6:21 am

    I know from personal experience and by having my trash dragged to the creek by a bear, that even chaining my trash can to the back of the shop doesn't stop a bear from getting in it. Might be a good idea to chain the cooler to a tree (use a big chain)or the bear might just take it home with him to work on later.

  2. Paul Steeve

    July 1, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I wonder how much a "bear-proof" cooler costs. I like how I just have to make my coolers "raccoon proof" with something heavy on the lid.

  3. Mel

    July 1, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Shoreman – You are right they have been known to haul off something they can manage and work on getting to the reward. These coolers appear to be extremely well built. As the guide says, the bears want the rewards not the smell. Will be interesting how this product holds up in Grizzly country.Paul – You know, the article did not identify who the manufacturer is! Hard to check them out and look into what the price is going to be. Time to look a little further on the 'net, I guess. That is a funny line on the Raccoon's.

  4. Othmar Vohringer

    July 2, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    That's great news for outdoor people venturing into bear country. But how about bear proof ATV's and boat motors? Here in BC were there is a grizzly behind every tree we found that grizzly's and black bears are attracted to the smell of gasoline and rubber too. It has become quite common that hunters waking up in the morning find the ATV tires chewed up by bears and gasoline tanks on ATV's and boats are destroyed.-ov-

  5. Mel

    July 2, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Wow, Othmar, that bit of news on your comment is something I never knew. Got any ideas how best to manage Grizzlies that adore your boat motor and ATV tires. Looks like modern technology better get to work on this!

  6. Doug O

    July 3, 2009 at 10:13 am

    I've had my water supply ravaged by a bear going after the plastic container. It was my first real bear encounter. We always hang our food in the tree but never thought about the water barrel.

  7. Mel

    July 3, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Doug – Reminds me of a couple of encounters I have had personally with bears in Idaho. To long to comment on so guess I have a story to tell for another post. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment.


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