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How Are Products Tested for Resistance to Bears?

Products designed to be bear-resistant undergo rigorous testing, often involving actual bears. These tests simulate real-world scenarios, ensuring the items can withstand curious and powerful animals. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee sets standards, which include timed trials and physical interactions. Intrigued by how your gear stands up to these mighty creatures? Consider the fascinating process behind bear-proofing products. What might surprise you about these tests?

There's no such thing as job guarantee, but if you weigh around 600 pounds, love the outdoors, and enjoy eating everything from berries to beef, there's almost certainly a position for you at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana. Just as long as you're a bear.

The sanctuary and education center employs a team of grizzly bears whose job is to make sure anything labeled "bear-resistant" can truly stand up to a bear's best efforts to open it.

The bears living at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in Montana "work" as testers to determine which products are truly bear-resistant. This trash can probably wouldn't have passed the test.
The bears living at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in Montana "work" as testers to determine which products are truly bear-resistant. This trash can probably wouldn't have passed the test.

For the bear testing, the product is filled with some type of tasty tidbit and set out in the open. The bears are then given one hour to bite, claw, and "bear-handle" the items to get to the goodies. If they can't, the product gets certification from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.

Randy Gravatt, the container testing coordinator at the center, says the bears go at their task like any devoted employee. "Their job here though is problem solving," he said. "They're here to put their backs into it, a little bit of elbow grease."

Besides testing products, the nonprofit facility serves as a conservation and education center focused on the bears and gray wolves that live in Yellowstone National Park. It welcomes visitors.

The bare facts about grizzlies:

  • Although grizzly bear cubs can begin eating solid food at a relatively early age, their mothers are able to nurse for up to three years.

  • Canada and Alaska contain approximately 50,000 grizzly bears, while Russia has about twice that many.

  • The largest grizzly bear held in captivity was Goliath, who lived at a New Jersey farm from 1967 to 1991; he reportedly reached 12 feet (3.7 m) in height and weighed 2,000 pounds (907 kg).

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    • The bears living at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in Montana "work" as testers to determine which products are truly bear-resistant. This trash can probably wouldn't have passed the test.
      The bears living at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in Montana "work" as testers to determine which products are truly bear-resistant. This trash can probably wouldn't have passed the test.