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To test new "bear-proof" garbage containers, a local company put their's to the test...and let a bear have at it. From the Anchorage Daily News...

Trash cans aren't quite Alaska bear-proof
(Published: October 15, 2002)

Waste Management of Alaska put its new bear-resistant cans through what was to be a final test Monday, with help from Alaska Zoo black bears. Mavis and Zayk ate out of the containers over the weekend, and on Monday they were given the locked container with their favorite foods inside. After thrashing the can for about 20 minutes, above, Zayk popped the lid and got his reward, left. Doug Daniels of WMA said the company will fine-tune the locking mechanism and wheels and offer the cans to customers on the Hillside and Girdwood in April.

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5,224 Posts
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Popular bear shot, killed on second floor of hotel
DEADHORSE: Male grizzly 'Toby' was a bit too adept at opening doors.

By Doug O'Harra
Anchorage Daily News

(Published: October 16, 2002)

A Male Grizzly, Known To Oil Patch Workers And State Biologists As Toby, Dined On Uneaten Cheeseburgers, Fries And Chicken Mornay Monday Night Before A Police Officer Standing Betwee The Animal And A Crowd Of Hotel Guests, Shot It. (Photo by Gregory Rintala)

Up in Deadhorse, they say Toby was just a popular bear gone bad, a grizzly doomed by a knack for opening doors -- and a taste for french fries.

The big male bear well known to oil patch workers and state biologists was killed about 8:30 p.m. Monday on the second floor of the Prudhoe Bay Hotel, after it approached a police officer standing between the animal and a crowd of hotel guests.

North Slope Borough officer Don Grimes had been trying to shoo the animal toward an exit, when the bear darted into a hotel room, then reversed course, said hotel manager Joree Lawson. She had watched from the other end of the hall.

A man apparently took a picture from the stairwell nearest the bear, possibly frightening the animal further, said state biologist Dick Shideler.

When the bear was less than 10 feet away, Grimes had no choice but to fire his shotgun, Lawson said.

"It looked like he was going to charge," Lawson said. "Toby was never aggressive, but I felt it could have gotten ugly."

"I really can't make any comment other than to say that the decision was made and it was in protection of life," Grimes added later. "It wasn't a fun one."

The bear had probably gotten into the hotel through an unlatched arctic entry, Lawson said. Once upstairs, the bear nosed into rooms and rummaged through trash cans containing uneaten cheeseburgers, fries and chicken Mornay.

"I walked up and looked around the corner. He had his head in the garbage can and was sitting there eating away," said Greg Rintala, a tool salesman from Denver on a trip to the Slope. "It was more a media event" than something scary, he said.

The 710-pound, 10-year-old bear with silvery shoulder patches had a fairy-tale origin. Orphaned at age 1 when its mother was struck by a truck, Toby lived out its life as one of about 45 bears monitored by state biologists in a research project, its lime green and pink ear tags easily identified.

News of Toby's death saddened Deadhorse regulars on Tuesday, said Les Dunbar, who runs the Prudhoe Bay Post Office and pins up photographs of local celebrity bears.

"Toby, he was the big boy up here -- he was dad to most of the babies," Dunbar said.

"He was the biggest boar that people saw in the oil field," said Becky Kelleyhouse, a wildlife technician working on the state's Prudhoe Bay Grizzly Project. "He was fairly non-aggressive, and he was habituated to people. So people had a lot of pictures of him."

A few years ago, garbage bears were a major nuisance in Deadhorse, six miles from the Arctic Ocean at the entrance to the oil complex. Then North Slope Borough installed electric and chain-link fences at the landfill, and Deadhorse businesses began using bear-proof trash bins.

"There's been a remarkable turnaround," Shideler said.

But Toby had been getting bolder, entering buildings and camps, raiding food in vehicles. On Sunday, the bear was seen raiding a warehouse break room, Kelleyhouse said.

"Even if he had gone out that door (of the hotel), he had exceeded our standard of behavior," Shideler said. "He's the seventh bear we've had to kill here in this type of situation. And they're all break-ins."

After skinning out Toby and donating his meat to North Slope villages, Shideler and Kelleyhouse discovered french fries, candy wrappers and many partly digested packets of hot apple cider mix in the bear's stomach.

"He'd actually gained a little over 220 pounds over the last two months, strictly from hanging around the buildings," Kelleyhouse said.

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