Nunavut tests steel cans to protect food caches

GN experiments with polar bear-proof bins

By GABRIEL ZARATE

Two Nunavut communities will be test sites for polar bear-proof steel food caches.

Sarah Medill, the Department of Environment’s specialist on polar bear deterrents, said the department has purchased several steel garbage bins for use as containers for food caches on the land.

“We’re hoping for feedback from users,” she said. “Are there modifications you want to make them useful to Inuit?”

Qikiqtarjuaq and one other community will receive several heavy, 80-kilogram boxes, unassembled so they can be transported more easily by boat or qamutik.

Medill said that residents of Qikiqtarjuaq have long complained of the need for bear-proof caches.

The HTOs in other communities haven’t confirmed interest, so Medill was reluctant to say where else she had made inquiries.

But it would be a community that has a lot of interactions between polar bears and humans.

The containers may reduce the odour of meat, which may limit the number of bears coming to check out the smell.

But the real benefit is that even if a bear does come a-calling, the animal will not be able to rip open the steel box.

And if the bears learn that such food caches are a waste of time for them to try to open, they may come by less often.

Wood boxes in the past have proven easily accessible to the powerful animals, Medill explained.

Ontario-based manufacturer TyeDee Bin tested its product at a polar bear habitat in Cochrane, Ontario in 2009.

The steel containers were designed to be garbage cans in northern Ontario black bear country, but proved impenetrable to two 350-kilo female polar bears.

Here’s a clip from the TV show Daily Planet showing such testing:

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