How to Keep Bears Out of Garbage Cans

If you live in a bear-populated area, then you may need some insights on how to keep bears out of garbage cans. How to Keep Bears Out of Garbage CansUnlike coyotes and dogs, bears will break even into the strongest garbage cans in search of food. You often end up with scattered garbage and a damaged garbage can.

In this guide, I have summarized 4 ways you can keep bears away from your garbage cans.

Related: Should I Keep My Garbage Can in the Garage?

4 Ways to Keep Bears Out of Your Trash Cans

Use a Bear-Resistant Garbage Can

Armed with their sharp teeth and strong jaws, bears are known to chew through the plastic materials utilized in most garbage cans. Bears are so strong that will also knock down and crash the garbage can to get what is inside there.

Bears have also become so intelligent that they are able to unlatch the lid using their paws.

Though some garbage cans are labelled as bear-resistant, they’re either broken into or left with serious damages. So when searching for bear-resistant garbage cans, go through previous customer reviews to see what they say about the product.

Here is a link to the best bear proof garbage cans.

Hide the Garbage Can in the Garage

Keeping your garbage can in the garage provides an effective barrier to roaming bears, coyotes and raccoons. You can hide the garbage can in the garage and only place it at the curbside on the scheduled collection day(s).

You’ll however have to contend with the odor that comes from the rotting garbage whenever you visit the garage.

Apart from preventing bear intrusion, there’re other benefits of keeping your garbage can in the garage. First, it shields the garbage can away from degrading elements. Plus, ill-mannered neighbors or passersby won’t toss trash in your garbage can.

Garbage Can Enclosures

Some people utilize a section of their garage as their crossfit gym. If you use the garage regularly, then it might not be convenient to store the garbage can in the garage.

In this case, building a trash can enclosure outside would be a more practicable option. Alternatively, you can buy a readymade trash can enclosure. When buying a trash can online ensure that it is labelled as bear-resistant.

If you decide to build the closure, use heavy-duty chain since bears are likely to break ordinary chain link. You can also build the enclosure using pressure-treated wood as is explained in this guide.

Notably, bears are good climbers and diggers. So, your typical enclosure should have a concrete floor and a wooded or chain-link roof.

Bear Deterrents

If bears become used to easy-to-find food, they’ll always be coming for more. Feeding bears deliberately is termed illegal and could attract penalties. A simple reason for this is that it puts people and property at risk. Plus it could harm the bears themselves.

Apart from securing you trash cans, you can use deterrents to discourage bears from your premises. Here’re some of the most effective deterrents you can use to keep off bears, coyotes and raccoons.

1. Electronic Deterrents

Electronic deterrents are automatic devices designed to trigger a scaring warning whenever they sense something in motion. The warning could be a water jet, flashing lights, alarm or noise.

Bears will definitely get scared by these warnings and avoid such places. However, studies shoes that, wild animals have a tendency to get used to same type of sound or other warnings. So, deterrents could be more effective if the device can make varying sound or light warnings on different days.

2. Scent Deterrents

You can take advantage of a bear’s sharp sense smell to deter them with scents that they hate. The most effective of these include bleach, ammonia and white vinegar.

Cleaning your trash can with bleach or white vinegar leaves a repelling scent for intruding bears. In addition, sprinkle ammonia on the trash to discourage bears even more.

Another way to do this is to place a bucket containing ammonia or bleach near the trash cans. The lid should have some holes to let the fumes out.

As a precaution, ammonia and bleach should never be mixed since the resulting fumes could be fatal to humans and animals.

Other possible scent deterrents may include Lysol and pepper spray.

3. Radio

Despite being fearless, bears are somehow wary of humans. So, you can trick them of your presence by leaving a radio on an open area. Tune the radio to a talk show so that the bears think that it’s people talking.

4. Guard Animals

Dogs are capable of sensing bears from far and raise alarm. The barking of a dog will in most cases scare off bears from your premises. However, when bears get used to the barking, they may no longer run away.

Make sure you do a thorough search on the best dogs to buy for preventing bear intrusion.


Keeping your trash in bear-resistant cans and enclosures provide the most effective ways of preventing bear intrusion. By complementing this with deterrents, you are in a good position to keep off bears from your premises.

If they no longer have access to something to eat, they’ll most likely give up visiting your premises.

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