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. 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. The Centers' bears test dumpsters, roll-out garbage cans, horse packing panniers and backpacker food storage containers made of everything from plastic to Kevlar.

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 such as fish, meat, molasses or fruit jam. 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 IGBC is composed of grizzly bear biologists from a number of government agencies. 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. 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.

Container testing is very stimulating for the bears and provides visitors with an experience that is entertaining, educational and unforgettable!

grizzly bear testing trash container


trash containers tested by grizzly bears

Trash containers tested by the bears at the GWDC



The Center works with many individuals, non-profits, conservation organizations, and government agencies. To learn more about our efforts, click these Links