Steamboat man receives patent on bear-proof invention
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS— A few years ago, local inventor Rollin Stone came up with an idea for a roll-away trash can lid that would ultimately test the resolve of a 650-pound grizzly bear nicknamed Kobuk the Destroyer.
But the bear wasn’t the biggest hurdle in Stone’s quest to create a new, bear-proof product.
“I was warned,” Stone said of going through the patent process. “So, I anticipated that it was going to take a while.”
Earlier this month, Stone finally received his patent, and now, he is ready to roll out an idea he thinks will address an important problem in Steamboat Springs — a place where wildlife and humans often share the same spaces.
“I have just been getting the system dialed in and making sure that we were not infringing on any other patents and stuff like that,” Stone said. “Now, I can really start helping the community and put a lot more effort into it. I can start mainstreaming these things and selling them in Routt County.”
That’s good news for homeowners and bad news for bears who will find that it takes a lot more than just knocking over a can and jumping on it a few times to get a free meal.
“In the two and a half years that I have had my cans out in the field, we have not been breached,” Stone said. “Not once in all that time.”
It doesn’t surprise Stone, who took his system to West Yellowstone, Montana, for a date with Kobuk, who knocked the can around for a while and jumped up and down on it without success. Some of Kobuk’s friends even dragged the can into a nearby pond and submerged it, but they were unable to get into the can.
By comparison, there were 30 to 40 other containers that failed the same test.
Stone’s system, which can be added to just about any trash can, uses two reinforced steel collars that prevent the can from popping open by forming an octagon.
The cans are currently available through Twin Enviro Services, which struck a deal with Stone shortly after he started making prototypes. Customers can purchase a can from Twin Enviro, and it can be fitted with the Stone’s bear-proof system for an additional $180.
Stone is also hoping to work with Aces High and other area trash service providers to offer his invention to more people and, hopefully, solve a problem that is found in every mountain community.