Steamboat inventor close to getting patent on bear-proof trash bin | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat inventor close to getting patent on bear-proof trash bin

A bear snacks on garbage in a dumpster near 11th and Oak streets in downtown Steamboat Springs in 2012. Police said they plan to be more aggressive in enforcing rules meant to keep bears out of trash cans and dumpsters.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – The city of Steamboat Springs renewed its vows this week to clamp down on residents who fail to live up to regulations meant to keep bears out of trash.

That makes local inventor Rollin Stone more eager than ever to receive the news that his patent for a bear-resistant trash receptacle is finalized.

Stone, a welder and steel fabricator, proved in spring 2016 that he had hit on a design for a trash rollaway lid that even a 650-pound grizzly couldn't breech. The inventor had done is homework, observing that even smaller bears have the strength to jump and pound on vinyl trash rollaways until they ultimately pop their lids.

"I was just messing around and came up with this design where I mount two reinforced steel collars that prevent any popping of the can by forming an octagon," Stone said.

Steamboat's resident bears have emerged hungry as ever from winter dens. And although police report that there haven't been many bears making the rounds on trash day this month, that's sure to change. Local regulations forbid keeping trash containers that aren't bear resistant outside between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. to reduce the temptation to bears.

People who fail to comply this summer will be required to purchase a bear-proof rollaway. Steamboat residents have learned from experience that bear proof is a relative term. The local bears have demonstrated that they can defeat some steel re-enforced  dumpster lids with sheer strength.

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David Criste, the principal at the Holistic Health Center on Oak Street is a believer in Stone's product.  He said businesses on the east end of the street were bothered a couple of years ago by a big sow black bear that was accompanied by either two or three cubs every summer.

"I was one of the first to go with one of Rollin's cans, and they have since demonstrated that they are absolutely bear proof," Criste said.

Steamboat Today reported in 2016 that Stone was encouraged by local wildlife officials to give his design the ultimate test and take it to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana. The bears there are professionals who have decimated bear-proof cans, leaving a boneyard of 30 to 40 containers.

However, even a 650-pound male grizzly named Kobuk the Destroyer, couldn't overcome Stone's design.

Since then, the inventor has sold only about 30 trash rollaways topped with his bar proof lid for a modest price of about $180.

"I've never had to fix one," Stone said.

So why hasn't the inventor sold more of his stout trash can lids? He said that was all part of a grand plan.

"My wife, Nicole, is a financial advisor," Stone said. "She told me not to get ahead of myself. I'm not marketing them. I'm waiting to see what happens with the patent."

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

Bear-proof options

In addition to Rollin Stone, all three of Steamboat’s trash haulers provide bear-resistant containers.

• Waste Management can be contacted at 970-879-2400.

• Twin Enviro can be contacted at 970-879-6985.

• Ace’s High can be contacted at 970-870-6500.

• Rollin Stone can be reached at rsweldingandfabrication@gmail.com.