Compost bin like lunch bucket for local bears when put out the night before pickup

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
October 24th, 2012

The new green compost bins issued by the Regional District Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) last month are attracting more than community discussion – bears are now cashing in on the free meals contained within.

Conservation officer Dave Webster said he is currently monitoring between five and six bear complaints in Grand Forks. About half of those he attributes to the tasty nature of the bright green bins.

“We would have never seen those bears without those little green bins of food,” said Webster, who wishes the RDKB had contacted him before starting the composting program.

“They don’t seal properly, and even if they did bears have been known to rip doors off of cars for food,” said Webster.

Webster said once a bear discovers what the bin contains, there will be no stopping them from breaking it open for the tasty contents.  Even if the bin is empty, the location becomes part of their routine scavenging route.

Tim Dueck, solid waste program coordinator with the RDKB, said the bins aren’t bear proof, but neither are most garbage bins people use.

“The lids are fairly secure, but not bear proof,” said Dueck. “The vast number of bears are opportunistic, so won’t work to get the lid opened. They’ll just walk away … Once the bin is closed properly, it is pretty tough.”

Dueck said to date the RDKB has only replaced one green bin since the program started earlier this month, and that had been run over by a vehicle, and not mauled by a bear.

The garbage within the bin is no different than what people have been putting out on the curb all along – it’s just been sorted differently, said Dueck.

“October is the worse time of the year for bear garbage interaction and that’s a reality,” said Dueck.

 The bins have to be stored securely, it doesn’t matter if it is a green bin or a garbage can, bears are attracted to it.

“The vast majority of bear green bin interaction has happened were the bin is being stored at night and not during collection … the bears are not going down the road bin to bin.”

Grand Forks city councilors have also been hearing complaints about the bins and will be discussing the creation of a new bylaw at a future council meeting that limits bins from being placed on the sidewalks only on the day of collection, and not the night before.

“The main complaint that I’ve heard was with people complaining about interference (with the bins) when putting it out the night before,” said Grand Forks mayor Brian Taylor during the regular council meeting on Monday, Oct. 22.

 My question to them is why are you putting it out the night before.  You didn’t do that with your garbage.

Several councilors had been told by residents about bears knocking the bins over and getting them opened.

“I’ve had two people approach me that had issues with bears not actually destroying containers  but certainly got them opened and that was a concern,” said councilor Bob Kendel. “One constituent approach me with their perception. They thought they were getting less service for more money.”

Dueck said a new bylaw will only “be as effective as any other bylaw” but appreciates the support city council has given RDKB on the project.

Store the green bins as you would your other garbage bins – in a locked shed with the lid securely fastened, advises Webster.

The green bins will get some relief when much of the local bear population starts hibernating at the end of November, said Webster.

If your bin is destroyed, you can obtain another one from the RDKB for free.

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