GARDINER — A grocery store seems like the perfect target for a hungry bear, but one market in Gardiner thwarted a grizzly over the weekend by doing exactly what you’re supposed to.
"The claws were just massive," said Gardiner Market owner Rebecca Demaree.
Demaree couldn’t quite believe what her security cameras caught this past weekend: a giant grizzly bear, sniffing around a trash can outside the store. But this was no ordinary trash can - it’s billed as bear-proof, and her camera caught the evidence. The bear was able to pull the trash can down with ease but couldn’t get anything out.
"We were really excited," she said. "There's been a lot of reports of bears getting into trash in town, so just to be able to see our can was knocked over, but it didn’t get any rewards, it was exciting to see."
It’s definitely not the first time the bear has been spotted. Gardiner resident Brandi Nichols has posted multiple videos from her home security cameras showing grizzly bears around her property.
"There’s more activity than normal years this fall, for sure," said FWP spokesman Greg Lemon.
Lemon says they’ve seen a smaller berry crop in a lot of areas this year, forcing bears down from the high country and into towns. That’s not ideal, but he likes seeing incidents end in success.
"Make no mistake, a bear’s place is not on the sidewalk in front of a grocery store," he said, "but if a bear winds up there, the worst thing in the world would be is if he gets a free meal out of it, so it was good to see the bear-proof container did its job."
He’ll keep sending a message though, because it only takes one mistake.
"If three of four houses have food secured, but the fourth house doesn’t, then it turns into everybody’s problem," he said.
"It made us feel good about making the investment, to know that we weren’t contributing to the jeopardy of the wildlife," Demaree added. "If you’re on the fence about investing in (a bear-proof can), it was encouraging to see it paid off."
After all, nobody wants to see their trash turn into bear treasure.