Welder tries to keep the bears out
May 3, 2016
Steamboat Springs — Rollin Stone has always had an interest in building things.
When he was younger, he got tired of always getting burned by oil when checking the turkey in the fryer. His solution was a winch system hooked up to a car battery that would hoist the turkey up and down.
Stone has been putting his ingenuity to use in another practical way with the hopes of solving a wildlife/human problem in Steamboat Springs.
Recently, he has been working on a retrofit for residential trash cans designed to make the cans nearly impenetrable to bears. He said his retrofit would retail for about $160. New bear-proof trash cans sold at Twin Enviro Services and Ace’s High Services cost between $220 and $240.
Stone said the three local trash companies have been impressed with his design.
“They like it, but they want to get it certified,” said Stone, who owns RS Welding.
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In fact, there is an organization that certifies trash containers as bear-proof. It is called the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, and they work with the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana, to do the testing.
Stone is sending his bear-proof retrofit to get tested at a cost of $600.
“It’s always that butterfly feeling when you go to send it off,” Stone said.
It is reasonable for Stone to be nervous.
Part of the certification process involves a live bear test using captive bears. The testers will fill the can with attractants like honey, peanut butter and fish oil. The attractant can also be applied to the outside of the can.
Then the testers let the bears go at the cans.
“Products may undergo contact by a number of bears of various sizes and with varying levels of experience with containers,” the testing protocol states.
Stone’s can will remain in the bear enclosure for one hour of bear contact time or until the can is breached.
“Bear contact is defined as biting, clawing, pounding, rolling, compressing, licking, chewing or scratching by the captive test bear(s),” the protocol states.
District Wildlife Manager Steve Baumgartner has provided feedback to Stone since he unveiled the prototype in October.
“It looks good, and he’s willing to get it certified,” Baumgartner said.
Parks and Wildlife officers are supportive of Stone’s efforts as they work with Steamboat officials to firm up the city’s rules for trash cans.
Steamboat Springs City Council will again be asked if they want to require all residents to have bear-resistant trash cans.