IGBC Bear Resistant Testing Protocols - What Makes a Cooler Bear Proof
In 1989 the IGBC developed the first consistent protocol for defining, testing, and recommending minimum design standards for bear-resistant containers. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) is considered the gold standard for certification of bear-resistant coolers, such as Grizzly Coolers.
Products that passed the rigorous IGBC testing protocol and were approved as bear-resistant meet IGBC certified bear-resistant design and structural standards. However, this is not a guarantee that a grizzly bear cannot gain entry into these products. Nor does the IGBC guarantee that small amounts of the contents of the containers won’t be able to leak or spill out.
Many manufacturers advertise products claiming to be bear-resistant or bear-proof. They may even indicate that their products have been tested by the U.S. Forest Service or the IGBC. However, in some cases, those products may not have actually passed the test or been approved by IGBC. Make sure the product you are purchasing is on the list of IGBC certified bear-resistant products.
Bear Proof Cooler Testing Procedures
IGBC bear-resistant product testing protocol pertains to food storage and garbage containment products that are commercially available. To comply with this protocol and become IGBC Certified. Commercially available coolers, such as Grizzly Coolers, require completion of a Visual Inspection and Live Grizzly Bear Test.
The live-bear test will utilize captive grizzly bears at an IGBC-approved facility and applies to plastic products such as rotomolded coolers, plastic panniers, backpacking canisters, most residential garbage cans, and other types of plastic storage containers.
The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana is the only facility approved for this purpose by the IGBC at this time.
Product components (i.e., latches, hinges, lids, coverings, openings, etc.) that might allow a bear to gain entry by breaking, bending, tearing, biting, or pulling with its claws or teeth will be visually inspected. Photographs of products will be taken during the visual inspection prior to the live-bear test.
What Makes A Cooler Bear Proof - The Live Grizzly Bear Test
- Testing personnel will prepare containers by placing an appropriate attractant (i.e., food item) inside the container. Containers that do not rely on an odor-proof barrier or liner may also have an attractant (i.e., honey, peanut butter, fish oil, etc.) applied to the outside of the product.
- Testing personnel will ensure that containers are closed and securely latched, knotted, or padlocked, as appropriate.
- Products will be placed inside the bear enclosure and bears will be allowed to interact with the containers. Products may undergo contact by a number of bears of various sizes and with varying levels of experience with containers.
- Testing personnel will monitor and video all product testing. Photos and video footage will be archived by the IGBC for a period of five years after testing.
- Products will remain in the bear enclosure and accessible to bears until breached or until a total of 60 minutes of “bear contact time” (see definition below) has been reached.
- A container will be considered to have been breached if it is rendered non-functional, or if the hinges, seams, lids, or doors are torn, bent, or broken and the bear gains access at any of these points at any time during the test. For garbage containment products, gaps, tears, or holes of 1 inch or less is allowable. For food storage products, such as coolers, gaps, tears, or holes of ¼ inch or less are allowable.
- Bear contact time stops if the product is taken into the water feature/pond (applies to coolers only).
- If the product is not breached within the required 60 minutes of bear contact time, it will be considered to have “passed” the live-bear test.
“Bear contact time” is defined as biting, clawing, pounding, rolling, compressing, chewing, or scratching by the captive test bear(s). Please note that licking does not count toward bear contact time.
A determination of whether or not a product passes the live-bear test will be made by the testing coordinator after testing results have been reviewed. This determination is final. Products that pass the live bear test and/or evaluation by testing personnel will be considered for IGBC approval.
The program leader will make this determination and manufacturers will be notified in writing if their product is approved. All IGBC approved products will receive a unique certification number at that time.
Learn more about the IGBC and its rigorous product testing protocols. Visit the IGBC website for more information on IGBC Product Testing.
About The IGBC
The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) was formed in 1983 to help ensure the recovery of viable grizzly bear populations and their habitat in the lower 48 states through interagency coordination of policy, planning, management, and research.
The IGBC consists of representatives from the USDA Forest Service (USFS), the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish, and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Geological Survey, and representatives of the state wildlife agencies of Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming. In the interest of international coordination and cooperation, the Canadian Wildlife Service is also represented.
IGBC’s goal of grizzly bear recovery is enhanced by addressing issues that can result in bears being removed from the population. Toward this end, decreasing the availability of attractants such as human food and garbage is an important means of achieving IGBC’s goal of reducing bear/human conflicts and recovering grizzly bear populations.