This Product Has Been Tested By Animals
May 9, 2019 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Specifically, it's been tested by grizzly bears. From Great Big Story, Montana's Bear and Wolf Discovery Center shows just what it means for a cooler or trash can to be bear-resistant.
posted by Hypatia (40 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why I Love My Fucking Home State, Product Testing Division.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:44 PM on May 9 [3 favorites]


Bears are so awesome...

Too bad they are so big and lethal...
posted by Windopaene at 1:46 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Is this at that touristy place in West Yellowstone that basically goes out and hides food under rocks and branches for the bears and wolves to find such that the tourists are entertained?

I didn't know the animals, or at least the bears, were rescues. That makes it a bit more palatable in my opinion but still, it is an odd tourist trap thing in the gateway town just outside the crown jewel of the National Parks system.

My wife and I are going back to YNP with friends in a little less than a month for a 9 day trip from Bozeman down to Flagg Ranch and many, many points in between. I'm pumped. Anyone who has been out there lately or knows the area really well, feel free to memail me. I worked in the park for two summers so I'm no rookie but that was 10 years ago so any more recent information is good, doubly so if you did the RV thing, which is what we're splitting with our friends from that working summer there.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:50 PM on May 9


This is at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center - they're AZA accredited and do a lot of interesting looking conservation work. "Each bear at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center has its own unique story, but they all have something in common; they came to reside here after becoming nuisance bears or orphaned cubs of a nuisance bear. "
posted by ChuraChura at 1:58 PM on May 9 [8 favorites]


I'm happy to have been mistaken about that place, it had a reputation when I was there that it seems may have been unfounded. I didn't work near West Yellowstone so I rarely passed through so never had a chance to visit/avoid it per se but I was always conflicted about folks being drawn into that when the gate to the actual park is literally 2000 feet away and it's the magical place where if you're not seeing animals then you're either exceedingly unlucky or just doing something wrong. I should ease up though, grizzly sightings aren't a every-visitor, every-trip sort of thing like the bison or elk and I know my kids would get a kick out of it nowadays.

Neat that testing bear equipment happens there too. Perfect locale and situation for it.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:05 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


The video is unbearably awesome.

Something about the "CPR method" for product testing just cracks me up.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 2:28 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


"Hey, Jerry."

"Oh, hey, Bob."

"So, Jerry, got some great stuff for ya today. Got some, let's see, a couple of coolers, a trash can--nothing too exotic about the design, but the material is supposed to be something else--a set of luggage, and... Jerry? Hey, Jerry buddy, you OK?"

"Eh. Just not feeling it today, Bob."

"Aw, man, dude. I know that a trash can's a trash can, but you're usually a, well, a bear about those coolers."

"Yeah, something about those old Yogi stereotypes and the whole pick-a-nick basket thing. I dunno, Bob. I mean, I dig batting the works of man around, and such, but what's the point? I mean, really, in the end, who cares?"

"Dude. You know you can talk to me."

"So, I was talking to the new guy, and he was telling me about this thing with the brothers up north. You know, up in the Arctic Circle."

"You mean... oh, right. With the ice disappearing. Those poor bears."

"Did you know I wanted to be a polar bear when I was a kid, Bob? I know how stupid that sounds, but... man, they're so badass! I mean, they're fuckin' huge, Bob, they're just like orcas with paws. And now their ice is just disappearing, what are they gonna do, Bob? And if they can't do shit, what hope is there for the rest of us?"

"I know, man, I know. I didn't wanna say anything because it bums me out too, Jerry, it does."

"I mean, what's the use, really? What's left?"

"I've told you about the people who are causing this, right?"

"Yeah, they think it won't hurt them, or they'll die before it can."

"Well, just imagine that yon trash can is one of those guys."

"Bob, I know what you're trying to do, but--"

"Yep. Just a-sittin' there and smoking a big-ass cigar and burning fossil fuels and laughing. He's laughing at you, Jerry, you and your disappearing polar bear heroes. Just a-yukkin' it up."

"Oh. Oh, I can see it, Bob. Oh, yeah. I'm getting into it now."

"Tell you what else, buddy. If I see someone who looks like he might enjoy a bit of gratuitous carbon emitting come pulling in here, I'll point him out to ya."

"Bob, you're the best. Just a quick charge towards him, not really coming up to the fence but coming in fast?"

"You got it, Jerry."

"You know I can smell it when someone shits their pants, Bob?"

"Beautiful, Jerry. Beautiful."
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:35 PM on May 9 [39 favorites]


As with any hacking test, you need to account for social engineering as well (link contains doggy pictures).
posted by idiopath at 2:39 PM on May 9 [7 favorites]


Fun!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:47 PM on May 9


Halloween Jack, that's amazing. Flagged as fantastic.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 3:11 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


I love that bear-resistant containers are products that we buy sort-of for our benefit but mostly for the benefit of the bears.

I mean, yeah it's nice to still have your food the morning after a bear's been around, but the more important purpose is to prevent bears from becoming habituated to people and associating people with food.
posted by theory at 3:16 PM on May 9


"a fed bear is a dead bear"
posted by sammyo at 4:14 PM on May 9


Neato! Thanks!
posted by eggkeeper at 4:34 PM on May 9


Is an hour really enough? Surely bears in the wild might have more than an hour to break into a container.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 4:43 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


[x] I am not a bear.
Powered bt bearCAPCHA
posted by zaixfeep at 5:01 PM on May 9 [4 favorites]


I like these bears
posted by schroedinger at 5:09 PM on May 9


Is an hour really enough? Surely bears in the wild might have more than an hour to break into a container.

I'm not a super expert on this but most hikers / backpackers hang their food to both save weight and further secure the items for longer than an hour.

I'm pretty sure this use case is for front country campers, or even homeowners, in bear territory where there isn't a permanent bear vault / canister available. I don't have much experience with those but they are more than bear resistant and are 'bear proof'. So the 1 hour thing makes better sense in that context.

I don't recall the source, maybe it was a ranger in YNP maybe a documentary, but it was an expert designer discussing how it was practically impossible to make a garbage bin that would outsmart the smartest of bears but still be operable by the stupidest of human tourists. It really makes you sad about humanity.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:18 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


I don't recall the source, maybe it was a ranger in YNP maybe a documentary, but it was an expert designer discussing how it was practically impossible to make a garbage bin that would outsmart the smartest of bears but still be operable by the stupidest of human tourists.

Apparently the problem isn't that they are too stupid to operate them, it's that if you make the food lockers too complicated, people won't use them.

Which is stupid, yes, but more voluntarily stupid.
posted by madajb at 5:50 PM on May 9


While a lot of backpackers definitely prefer to hang their food, bear-resistant containers are mandatory in some areas of the US (including several national parks, sections of the Pacific Crest Trail and John Muir Trail, the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness in the Adirondacks, at least one section of the Appalachian Trail in springtime) and in Canada (much of Kluane National Park).

There are also arguments in favor of using canisters instead of hanging in heavily-used areas where there are concerns about damage to trees. And if you're above the treeline you don't really have the hanging option anyway.
posted by theory at 6:44 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


YES THIS IS MY FAVOURITE next show me raccoons and possums product testing trash cans full of day-old cheese danish
posted by poffin boffin at 6:56 PM on May 9 [5 favorites]


also show me drunk mooses who ate old apples, i love the drunk mooses
posted by poffin boffin at 6:58 PM on May 9 [10 favorites]


What I want to know and this video does not explain is how you get a six-hundred pound bear to stop messing with a box with food inside after an hour?

I am guessing the answer is "Lure away with tasty bear treats" but I would like an official answer.
posted by iamnotangry at 7:32 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


i have no idea but i hope it's like the panda researchers at the wolong panda reserve who have to put on panda suits to get things done
posted by poffin boffin at 7:40 PM on May 9 [3 favorites]


Apparently the problem isn't that they are too stupid to operate them,

You didn't meet the people visiting YNP who asked their server (myself or friends) the following questions and no I'm not exaggerating and this was just from one summer's experience, I didn't even pay attention to them the second summer:

"The electricity is out huh? Will Old Faithful still erupt? And it'll be on time? That's amazing."

"Wait, so that's as close as you can get to Old Faithful? I told my son he could pee in it."

"At what elevation do the elk turn into moose?"


"Why are those little red dogs following along with the bison herds?" ***

In awestruck voice: "But where do they put the all those animals at night?"

And my favorite, from a dad who was dead serious "But those aren't really wild animals though are they?"

And that's not even mentioning the copious amounts of evidence of people getting hurt or risking the same by standing within the rack of a grazing elk for a photo (which a ranger then took from them when they bragged about it to said ranger, they also got tickets and lost their camera), attempting to feed the bison grass from their hands, or even trying to put their kids on the backs of a bison for a photo op.

Not to mention killing wildlife in incomprehensible ways or outright dying due to stupidity.

So, yea, I have no doubt that many choose not to operate the bear proof garbage cans installed for the bear's benefit but I also have zero false impressions that some folks probably simply can't. Splitting hairs and all that but at least I got to ramble on about how stupid and reckless tourists can be.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:06 PM on May 9 [6 favorites]


The smartest bear / dumbest camper thing quoted at schneier.com "Human/Bear Security Trade-Off"
posted by nickzoic at 8:41 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


"At what elevation do the elk turn into moose?"

Oh, you have to get pretty high I think...
posted by traveler_ at 9:51 PM on May 9 [5 favorites]


I have always found there is a large amount of racsim/classism in the whole some people aren't smart enough to go camping. They always mean exactly who you think they mean by some people.

"But those aren't really wild animals though are they?"

But they're not, are they? They are wild in the sense of not being house pets, but they are not wild in the sense of being unused to being fed by humans. If you want to see wild animals you have to go somewhere there is not a parking lot (Which is a non starter to those who do not have the time/money/training etc).
posted by iamnotangry at 9:59 PM on May 9


bear-resistant containers are mandatory in some areas of the US

Last month I camped at a wildlife area about 20 miles from Lassen NP. In Lassen, they don't even allow food hanging; canister use is mandatory. But this place right nearby didn't even have bear resistant trash cans in the developed campsites, which I thought was kinda weird. And there were definitely bears around. One night a black bear came to just outside the campground and woofed at me (I woofed back and he left).

I think the difference is the wildlife area allows bear hunting, so problem bears don't last beyond one season. It's kinda wild how different the attitudes are across different park agencies.
posted by ryanrs at 10:12 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


We had our trash/compost can tipped over a couple of times by a bear. Even so, we left a loaf of moldy bread in one of those 'bear resistant' trash cans featured in the video and left it out overnight. A bear just ripped it apart, tore the thick plastic out of the metal rim like it was a piece of paper.

We fed the bear and the bear is probably dead and I feel horrible about it.

Also - when biking home from work (slowly, up a hill), we passed some people who asked if we knew anything about the big brown dog walking down the street. It wasn't a dog.

(Even with various neighborhood improvements, the night before compost day is still sad/amusing - if the right bear visits our street you can hear the thud...thud..thud of compost bins being knocked over in the hopes they will open).

(And, if anyone has cracked the problem of how to have food in city compost bin in your garage so the bears can't get it without having your whole house filled with flies - please share. We are trying compost bags, which seems to be an improvement, but it's a bit cold for the flies still so I don't know yet.)
posted by lab.beetle at 10:24 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


They always mean exactly who you think they mean by some people.

if you're suggesting that RoE is referring to nonwhite ppl in his comment you should probably reflect on the fact that he is a poc himself, and also that every single thing he mentioned is precisely what I would expect to hear from a clueless wealthy white person trying to buy an "authentic wilderness experience".
posted by poffin boffin at 11:06 PM on May 9 [13 favorites]


"At what elevation do the elk turn into moose?"

"You must be *this* high to see the transformation."
posted by hat_eater at 3:10 AM on May 10


poffin boffin, here is the raccoon testing video you requested. First they show the old smaller green bin (municipal composting), then what's now the current one. Which has already been compromised.
posted by giltay at 7:14 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


I have always found there is a large amount of racsim/classism in the whole some people aren't smart enough to go camping. They always mean exactly who you think they mean by some people.

I live in Montana, and I can tell you that when it comes to the wilderness, stupid knows no race, creed, gender, etc. All it takes is someone who - for whatever reason - does not give Mother Nature the respect she deserves, and a tragedy happens. And often, the worst offenders are the people who are arrogant, which tend to be the wealthy white tourists who do not understand that Mother Nature and her children do not care about their skin color nor their bank balance.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:18 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


I am glad to hear that your experiences are not the same as mine have been as a PoC going camping. However I stand by my statements.

Including the one that the animals rummaging through trash in Yellowstone are about as wild as the possums in my backyard.
posted by iamnotangry at 10:10 AM on May 10


I have always found there is a large amount of racsim/classism in the whole some people aren't smart enough to go camping. They always mean exactly who you think they mean by some people.

Wtf? I'm Poarch Creek Indian myself, first generation, and while I don't recall exactly because it was neigh on 12 years ago I am pretty certain all of those comments came from white people. I'm the first one to admit to and want to solve the lack of PoC in the camping and/or vacationing in Yellowstone National Park.

We saw mostly Americans, a good bit of Japanese tourists (that I didn't get to talk to since there was almost always a language barrier), some Europeans, and a scant few African-American or other PoC. It was sad and I was always happy to engage with them if I was given the opportunity while serving them breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Your assumption that I feel otherwise, frankly, sucks.

"But those aren't really wild animals though are they?"

But they're not, are they?


I worked inside the park. INSIDE.Lived, worked, slept at Grant Village and Canyon Village for 2 full summers and the animals that people I quoted, again all white as best I can recall, were referencing were 100% wild animals.

I am glad to hear that your experiences are not the same as mine have been as a PoC going camping. However I stand by my statements.

I mean, nobody here is saying that PoC don't make up an underrepresented portion of folks well off enough to enjoy the wilderness, but you're off base in assuming many of the things you're stating as facts, I mean:

Including the one that the animals rummaging through trash in Yellowstone are about as wild as the possums in my backyard.

Holy shit, what are you even saying? Have you been to Yellowstone? I'd suggest you go but I feel like you maybe should listen more rather then assume because they are wild and they will cause you great harm if you don't respect them the end.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:25 AM on May 10 [9 favorites]


I can't get over why you think Yellowston which contains lots of things like over 200 miles of trails, the most remote point in the contiguous US aka the only place where you can be 20+ miles from a road, and contains 2,219,789 acres not even including Tetons and nearby protected forests has animals that are only as wild as the possums in your backyard.

I mean, maybe that's the joy of Yellowstone that you're not understanding or maybe you're thinking of those oddball bear feeding dumps that they did away with 50 years ago, but it contains multitudes


If you want to see wild animals you have to go somewhere there is not a parking lot

That is absolutely, 100% untrue for Yellowstone, and many other wonderful places besides. You may have to deal with other tourists watching the same wildlife you are or you may have to walk 100 feet from the pavement to get away from, literally, 95% of the visitors but wildlife it remains.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:00 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


"What I want to know and this video does not explain is how you get a six-hundred pound bear to stop messing with a box with food inside after an hour?"

The bears have been trained/conditioned to go back inside at the occurrence of a certain sound (I forget what sound -it's been about 10 years since I was there.) Back inside they have delicious food ready to eat, instead of having to try to break into a cooler.

"If you want to see wild animals you have to go somewhere there is not a parking lot."

Grizzly bears are expanding their range across Montana and have been seen on the prairie next to the interstate. Look up, "Montana FWP Prairie Bear Monitor."

I'm not sure how a free-ranging grizzly bear could be considered, "not-wild."
posted by ITravelMontana at 12:06 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


"Why are those little red dogs following along with the bison herds?"

That picture you linked next to it may now be one of my favorite wildlife pictures ever.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:21 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Is an hour really enough?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz


I think it's because, given enough time, bears can get into basically anything. I work at REI in Knoxville, and about two weeks ago a customer returned an Ursack bear-resistant bag. While camping in Pisgah National Forest a bear had gotten into it and eaten all the food. The sack was shredded and smelled super bear-y.

We don't have brown (grizzly) bears around here, so this damage was done by a black bear. Black bears are smaller and less aggressive than their western cousins, so this is sort of a best-case scenario.
posted by workerant at 9:49 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


In several places that require backpackers to have bear-resistant food storage, the Ursack won't qualify and we need to bring a bulky hard plastic bin - annoying but worth it. I'd love to get a whiff of the bear-breached Ursack that workerant handled!
posted by exogenous at 12:13 PM on May 16


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