I used to be really annoyed by Bearskin’s dumpsters. (Or as Dee always corrected us: they are “containers,” not “dumpsters.”) Throwing away the trash here is a weight-lifting workout, not only because the bags of garbage are heavy, but because just getting the bags into the dumpster takes a lot of muscle.
Our trash container lids don’t simply open and close. Oh no, you have to wrestle several long heavy metal “bear bars” out of slots across the top of the dumpster lid, then lift the 4 billion pound hinged metal lid up far enough that it goes crashing over against the other side of the dumpster with a huge boom — momentarily dispelling any sense of quiet or solitude in the woods for at least 50 miles around the dumpster. Then you heave the bulky trash bags up over the edge of the trash container, pry your fingers under the thick metal lid, awkwardly lift the cumbersome cover back up once again and let it freefall with another big bang back into position. After that, you have to find where you dropped the unwieldy metal bars that go across the top, properly reposition them, and finally, fiddle with the clumsy bolts on the bar ends.
All this effort is an attempt to outsmart the animals. It’s not working.
Since February we’ve been battling pine martens in the dumpster. Our guests, especially in winter, love seeing pine martens. They are almost kitten-like in their cuteness — that is before you know they are “stone cold killers,” as one web site put it, with a predilection towards pouncing on the necks of little red squirrels. Pine martens discovered they could, um, weasel their way under a couple bends in the metal covers of our dumpsters and from then on, life was good. Since pine martens are omnivores, that should mean they wouldn’t be overly choosey about their garbage preferences — but no, these turned out to be finicky omnivores. Every morning they would leave a display on top of the dumpster of rejected garbage tidbits: orange peels, steak bones, cookie crumbs, bread crusts. Quinn, Andy & Kyle wasted perfectly good pork chops in an effort to livetrap and relocate a couple of them, only to discover that our dumpster was pine marten paradise. As soon as they moved a pine marten over to Swamper, another one promptly relocated to our little patch of trash container nirvana.
We gave up and took consolation in this: at least they weren’t bears.
The competition for living in dumpster bliss finally showed up this week. We’ve been feeling a bit smug about our lack of bear problems. We had sturdy dumpsters, ridiculously heavy lids and luckily, just a few days ago we got around to securely reattaching the bear bars back on top of the containers. No bear could possibly open those covers.
The flaw in this assumption was in presuming that a bear would try to pull open the lid. Until yesterday we were unaware of the trampoline approach to dumpster assault, in which a bear crawls on top of the dumpster, then jumps up and down on the lid until the sheer burden of the bouncing bear bends and breaks the lid. You have to hand it to the bear — this is brilliant. And somewhat indefensible.
Andy and Bob patched the dumpster lid. They cleaned up garbage the bear had strewn far, far into the woods. This made the pine marten mess look very minor, at least comparatively. The newly rebuilt dumpster lid was still solid this morning, but tomorrow? We shall see. It’s hard to believe that after one successful trampoline triumph, this bear won’t be back for more.
Probably to “be continued.” Unless we are really lucky!