Freezing out the bears in summer

Bears are a pain.

Most mountain residents have bear trouble. Car break-ins, house break-ins, ruining gardens, killing livestock and just general obnoxiousness are the bear’s trademark. Each morning social media sites are rife with overnight encounters. Videos capture bears and cubs sniffing around trash cans and climbing in Dumpsters. They always leave a mess.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife had to put down several bears this summer because of bear-human conflicts. With an increase in human encroachment into bear territory there’s bound to be more problems keeping Yogi out of the trash.

Bears awakened early in 2017. Sightings started in March and activity peaked in June and July and started to taper a bit. I expect it to re-surge before hibernation sometime in November. This isn’t scientific, it’s observation. My data may be a bit off because I think I’ve found a solution to my bear problem. Freeze them out.

On one of the social media threads someone suggested putting food scraps in the freezer and put them out in the morning for trash pick-up. I gave it some thought.

Other people still think the ‘bear-proof’ trash cans work wonders but others offer equally opposing arguments. Tie-downs and chains encircling the can keep some bears out but after seeing a video of a bear doing CPR on a trash can and the can obligingly popping open changed my mind. I still use tie-down straps but that’s mostly to give me warning that a dam bear is trying to make off with my leftover steak and potatoes.

I have a system for nighttime bear assaults – keep the trash cans tied down and place them near the front of my car. There’s a really distinct sound when the can goes over and I’ve learned that all I need to do it roll over and hit the panic button on my car and Mr. Bear nearly has heart attack. It’s absolutely satisfying to blast a car horn at stealthy bear.

Back when the transfer station was open, I didn’t even use a trash service. I kept a trash can outside and when it was time to get rid of it, I went to dump and for a couple of bucks dropped off my trash and recycling and picked up a few bundles of newspaper for winter fires in the woodstove. It was interesting to go to the dump. You could find still useful items such as a really nice pot with a fitting lid or a really nice canister set that I rescued and dropped off at Goodwill. The dump closed and foraging ended. The locals had to choose between two trash companies and the romance was gone.

There was one time I went to the dump and a mother bear and cubs were circling the trash pile looking for a quick meal. They were frequent visitors and workers gave the bears a wide berth. A few days I saw the little family something startled one of the cubs and it scrambled up a power pole and was electrocuted. The workers there christened him Barney and buried him in a grave over the hill from the dump. The put up a small memorial that included a Big Mac container and an empty bag of Chips Ahoy cookies.

So I tried freezing my food scraps. I included leftover kitten food and it mounted up quickly. My old fridge was getting really noisy and worked overtime to keep things frozen. I replaced it with a newer, quieter fridge that’s less judgmental about what I put in there. I keep the food wrapped up in a plastic bag and in a medium-sized bucket so anything liquid doesn’t spill.

If the bucket is getting full and it’s a few days before trash day, I just drop the King Soopers bag in the trash at the Loaf ‘n Jug or the trash bin at the garage at work if they’ve pissed me off that week. Whether the food goes out with my trash or somewhere else, this system is working.

The last four weeks I’ve not had any nighttime assaults on my can. Oh, maybe they’re doing a drive-by but that’s all. They don’t seem interested in the bags of cat stuff from the litter box and they ignore the recycling can because that’s just paper and I wash out all the can and bottles.

So far, so good. Me, 1, Bears, 0.

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