British Columbia

Remote B.C. reserve at leading edge of saving bears with animal-resistant bins

Hundreds of bears are killed each year in B.C., many after getting into household trash cans. A remote reserve on Stuart Lake is on the cutting edge of changing that, with the introduction of bear-resistant garbage cans.

Bears around Binche can't crack bear-resistant trash cans

Bears like this one, photographed on the remote road to Binche, are a common sight in the area. Their presence prompted locals to put household garbage in bear-resistant cans. (Kevin Toews/Contributed )

Bears are a common sight on the remote, forested road to Binche, 1,000 kilometres north of Vancouver on Stuart Lake.

And beside every home on the reserve, there's a special, bear-resistant garbage can.

"They do help big time, because it's hard for humans to get into them, much less bears," said interim band Chief Josh Hallman about the black garbage bins with tough latches and robust lids.

"I guess it was an experiment," said Binche's interim chief Josh Hallman of the bear proof cans. "They do help big time. It's hard even for a human to get in to them." (Betsy Trumpener/CBC News )

Every year in B.C., hundreds of bears are killed, often after getting into garbage. Cities and towns are starting to experiment to see if the use of bear-resistant bins for household trash will save bears' lives.

Experiment gets results

Hallman estimates about 200 bear-resistant cans have been in use for several years in Binche, the neighbourhing Tache reserve, and on reserve lease land where cottagers live.

"I guess it was an experiment, but somebody was thinking on the right line I do believe," said Hallman.  "We haven't had any bears or any dogs get into any of our cans in this village." 

Garbage day in Binche: about 200 bear-proof cans are put out on garbage day by people in Binche, Tache, and in cottages on reserve lease lands. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC News )

Bigger communities may have something to learn from the Binche experience.

About 180 kilometres southeast of Binche, Prince George has latched on the idea. In April, the city rolled out 300 bear-resistant garbage cans to field test in one part of Prince George. The city's special bins feature a sturdy latch and the face of a ferocious bear, but they're also very expensive.

"We haven't had any bears or any dogs get into any of our cans in this village," said interim band chief Josh Hallman. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC )

City officials said they're still monitoring how well the garbage cans work and will have more data in the autumn. 


About the Author

Betsy Trumpener

Reporter-Editor, CBC News

Betsy Trumpener has won numerous national and provincial journalism awards, including a national network award for radio documentary and the national network Adrienne Clarkson Diversity Award. Based out of Prince George, B.C., Betsy has reported on everything from hip hop in Tanzania to B.C.'s energy industry. She also covered the 2010 Paralympics for national radio news.


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