Battle With the Bears: Bears 3 – Me, One Wildlife-Resistant Garbage Can

Before you reach for the comment button below and tell me to make room in the garage for my garbage cans; or put them in a more secure location; or remind me that the bears were here first, I already know.

I know I live in cookie-cutter suburbia plopped into the middle of bear county, where I happen to love living. The garbage cans are also behind a locked fence. I’ve lived here 13 years. The bears have only been in my yard and garbage cans three times. The third time was enough.

Bears are smart and superb (yet awkward) fence climbers. I have neighbors who do exactly what the City of Snoqualmie hates – put their garbage cans curbside the night before pick up day – basically setting the table for a nice, late night bear dinner.

Apparently, though, the bears in my neighborhood have discerning taste – and are willing to climb for it.

Last week, when numerous garbage cans sat in my cul-de-sac overnight with easy accessibility, one discerning bear left those ‘ripe for the picking’ cans alone and climbed the fence into my backyard.

Why? My family decided it was because I had roasted a chicken during the week.

So… that bear ignored the easy-to-get-to cans and went straight to the bottom of our “behind-the-fence-not-going-curbside-until-pick-up-morning” garbage can.  He even bypassed the bag on top with icky bathroom garbage, and found the “good bag.” He drug it from the side of the house into the middle of the backyard – the preferred dining location – and began his dinner. He got scared, though, (blame the camera flash) and ran off halfway through the dinner hour.

But alas, he returned with company for the FRIENDS and FAMILY dinner special. Three hours later (2:45AM) that bear came back, along with three other dinner guests, including his [assumed]very large mother.  Even big momma scaled the fence, which is still standing.

Those FOUR bears then got the rest of the garbage out – all of it. They ripped open every bag, dumped over the yard waster container – where that formerly roasted chicken carcass was hidden amidst the stinky yard stuff – and enjoyed dinner. I am quite the hostess, as I assume they left full.

[Did I mention bears are smart? They even got the lid off of a small, 18oz peanut butter jar.]

Time for a New Garbage Can

Last Tuesday precisely at 7AM, three hours after those bears left my yard and right as Waste Management opened for the day, I ordered our bear-resistant garbage can. bear canNext up is the bear-resistant yard waste container.

The cost for my family? $3 more per month. Yes, I could re-arrange my whole garage and probably squeeze those containers inside. But somehow we already manage to fit two, full-size SUV’s in our cookie cutter home’s small garage. There isn’t that much room left to spare –  and I am not moving the garage refrigerator.

The new, bear-resistant can isn’t that much bigger, as we already had a 60-gallon can for our family of six. The lid is SUPER heavy.  You let it drop and it locks.  You reach inside a small, protected cylinder attached to the lid and slide a metal latch to open the can. Pretty simple.

The true test will be the next time I roast a chicken and the kids clean me out of peanut butter. Anyone care to place a bet?

Those bear sure are impressive to see up close, though.


[Side note:  I did not have to clean up the bear mess. My husband was kind enough to do that and still get the cans curbside before pick up time.]


bear garbage
Backyard looked like a garbage tornado rolled through after four bears got into garbage cans on 10/29/14.


Comments are closed.


  • We have had a bear proof Yard Waste can since they first started offering them. Yes, the cost of that can is $3/month, but I was able to reduce the size of my garbage can, so overall we now pay less. We are really strict about making sure ALL food scraps go into the yard waste or down the disposal. The bears have knocked over the bear proof can many, many times (they can still smell that yummy food waste) and there are new scratches on it each week. But they have never been able to crack it open. We’ve had it for over a year. Now the only thing that goes in my garbage can is packaging that cannot be recycled…and the bears don’t even bother to knock it over. You’ll love your new canister!

  • So other areas of Snoqualmie can rent bear resistant garbage cans through Waste Management but Republic which services Ernies Grove will make us buy them? How nice… I get bears in my yard probably every day of the week…

  • We had a bear break into our garage thru the windows across the top, twice! Our solution, that has worked so far, is to freeze any kitchen trash (we have a dedicated shelf in our freezer) and we purchased a bear proof trash can. We eventually stopped trash service and take our trash to the dump. Before this, we only put our cans out the morning of trash pick-up day. Our friends that live in Alaska shared the freezing solution. It takes away the smell! Good luck! We are so fortunate to live amongst all this wildlife.

  • Some day the city will pass the revised garbage code. Then maybe we can get the cans off the street the day before and after collection. Just plain lazy folks

    1. Hi Will, I’m one of those “day before collection” people sometimes. We have to take our cans 1/4 of a mile down the road for collection, my husband travels a lot and I have difficulty moving the cans by myself, so on occasion we need to put them out early if he’s going to be gone. Does it still make me “lazy” if I can’t manage it solo? Please don’t make sweeping assumptions.

  • The bears were out in force that night. My next door neighbors across from Swenson Park were hit by two bears for a good 30 minutes of garbage can buffet dining around 11pm until I called the police who scared the bears away. A reminder that Snoqualmie Police want us to call and report these incidents, especially as they’re happening. I think they try to keep track of patterns.

  • And so why does Waste Management have to charge $3 more for a bear resistant container..what happened to doing the right thing for your customer..we need the containers..they have them..we pay a heavy price for the service of curbside garbage pick up already..just give us the containers we need for the service fee you already get…for crying out loud.

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