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BEARLock Bin

Scott Bakewell, DAWGs national sales manager, removes the screw-top lid from
a 30 gallon bear-resistant trash can.

Plymouth Company Thwarts Bears

By Kurt Moffett - Waterbury Republican American. May 29, 2007

PLYMOUTH, Conn. -- A local environmental clean-up supply company believes it has a deterrent for keeping bears out of homeowners' backyards.

The company, DAWG Inc. -- DAWG stands for Doing Away With Grime -- sells and distributes bear-resistant trash cans. With the number of black bears in Connecticut estimated at 300 and continuing to rise, the timing for the product is perfect, said Scott Bakewell, DAWG's national sales manager.

The bear population is becoming more and more prevalent in Connecticut, he said. Within the next five years, we're going to have to do something because there are more and more of them. DAWG started getting calls a few years ago from bear education groups interested in buying its overpack drums -- which are used to secure hazardous materials, and are made of high-density polyethylene and have durable screw-top lids -- and converting them into bear-resistant trash cans, Bakewell said.

The groups, like The Bear Education and Resource Group in New Jersey, would simply screw handles on to the drums. The group sells its own product, called the Critter Can, at www.crittercan.org.

Eventually, DAWG started marketing its own trash cans. The company started with one 30-gallon can in late 2004, but that has grown into six different cans today, ranging from 20 gallons to 95 gallons. The cans are secured either with screw-top lids or metal alligator clips, and the lids are lined on the inside with a rubber gasket to help prevent odors from escaping.

The cans have been tested and meet the standards of the Living with Wildlife Foundation, a Montana-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping humans and wildlife co-exist. To meet the standards, the cans had to survive 60 minutes of abuse by captive grizzly bears in West Yellowstone, Montana.

The testing program was launched in December 2003 in conjunction with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. There are about five companies selling bear-resistant cans in the United States, with DAWG and California-based BearSaver.com being the largest, according to the foundation.

Bakewell said the demand for the bear-resistant cans has so far been primarily concentrated in the areas of Vail, Colorado, and northwest New Jersey. But he believes it won't be long before Connecticut residents are demanding them.

The cans range in price from $29 to $182. Bakewell would not reveal sales figures, but said sales for the cans are growing. "They're becoming very popular", he said. "We've gone from a couple of calls per month to selling them daily."

DAWG recently won a bid to sell more than 3,000 of the BearLock Bins to the township of West Milford, N.J., about a two-hour drive south of Waterbury. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection awarded West Milford a $200,000 grant in 2005 for the cans, two per family up to 1,500 homes.

In 2003 and 2004, there were 198 bear damage and nuisance complaints reported in West Milford, according to the New Jersey DEP. Richard Kunze, the township administrator, said the cans are expected to be delivered next month. He did not have a specific figure, but said the number of bear incidents in the area has risen over the past 18 months.

"I grew up here, and when I was a kid I'd play in the woods and I never saw a bear. Now you do", Kunze said. "The bear population has come back and I think the DEP is searching for ways to deal with the population." Bakewell said bear-resistant cans can be another alternative to hunting the bears, which many animal groups oppose. Hunting bears is still prohibited in Connecticut.

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