Composting in Bear Country

Composting in Bear Country

We often get asked if Speedibins are bear proof. The short answer is no, they are designed to keep out rats, mice, raccoon, and dogs. But if a bear can rip into a car, it can get into a Speedibin! We have had a couple of customers that had encounters with bears.  In one case, they could just put the bin back together and in another there were some bent parts that needed replacing.  The Scholar model is quite a bit tougher than the Deluxe or Classic models, but it is designed to withstand jumping children, not bears. 

However, there are ways to dissuade bears. The big one is to not let your compost smell. When we use our bin here, we:

  1. dig a little hole in the existing compost
  2. dump in the stinky kitchen scraps
  3. cover back over with the compost
  4. and top off with a handful of leaves.

That way the bin never smells. I can stick my head into the bin and it smells fresh and earthy. We compost fish, dairy, chicken carcasses even prawn heads this way with no smell. We have bears in the forest next door and they have never shown an interest in our compost. We have a customer who set up a night video camera and he watched a bear walk right past his Speedibin! No smell, no interest. Check out their video

By the way, if you add a little scoop of garden soil from time to time, it will add decomposing microbes and probably worm cocoons. And the worms need the grit for their digestion.

If you live in bear country, you probably know that you must remove attractants like garbage cans, BBQs, bird feeders, keep apples picked etc. If bears come over for the bird seed, they may stay for the compost. Once they find a good food source, they’ll be back. Bears can smell five times better than a bloodhound. They can smell a peanut butter sandwich over a kilometer away!

According to WildSafeBC, the most reported attractants are garbage and fruit trees. While compost reports are less reported, they can still be a strong attractant for bears if not managed well and allowed to get smelly. Poorly managed compost can also attract rodents which can lead to problems not only for you but your neighbours. Do not add meat, dairy, bones or grease unless you can dig it deeply (8 inches minimum) into your active wormy compost. If you have too much fruit to compost, you can freeze it and add it incrementally to the compost. Or better yet, work with a fruit gleaning organization that shares the harvest. Here in the Comox Valley, BC, LUSH Valley is the go-to organization.

The best way to keep out bears is to put an electric fence around the area. It is easier to do than you might think. WildSafeBC provides many resources on electric fencing as well as a list of potential cost-share opportunities. Check out to learn more. Other options include keeping a composter in a building, preferably with an earth floor to allow worms and microbes and water to transfer through the bottom screen. One customer wrapped their Speedibin in cinder blocks and has not had bear problems.

If you want to see a hilarious video of a bear getting into a guy's Mercedes, check this out, after you turn up the volume. Note to self: keep the car empty!

The main point is to not let your compost get smelly. Keep the fresh scraps covered. It’s better for the bears and makes it happier for you too!

As always, if you have other suggestions or stories, we’d love to hear!

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