Human rescuers freed two bear cubs and their mother trapped in a seemingly secured trash bin on North Shore resort property.
The three bears’ dumpster drama came to a happy ending Wednesday morning behind the Cascade Vacation Rentals office in Lutsen, when employees executed their strategy successfully and sent the cubs to their mother waiting within viewing distance, said property staff member Jaye White.
No one was more surprised than Cascade employee Bara Raah Gregoire to see what was inside the bin, which had so-called “bear bars” in place to keep out the hungry critters.
She said she was bringing trash to the bin about 7:30 a.m., removed the two metal bars and lifted the lid to find “the [mother] bear was sitting in the dumpster. … How is that even possible with it being barred shut?”
Gregoire fled without putting the bars back in place and alerted property maintenance. That’s when the mother bear fled the trash in a flash and found a spot in a nearby tree.
Owner Steve Surbaugh showed up about 9 a.m. and saw the two bear cubs still inside and unable to escape.
Two resort employees jury-rigged a ladder from a broken futon, lowered it into the bin and banged on the metal receptacle until “one of the cubs slowly ascended the makeshift ladder and leapt out of the dumpster,” White said.
“The second cub was more reserved, popping its head out but then going back in a couple of times before it finally made the leap out and was reunited with its family,” White added.
So how did those three bears find their way into the bin despite the metal bars locking the lid?
Cathy Hahn, who lives up the road from the dumpster, said she has spotted bears in the past sitting on the hard-plastic bin lid, and the top sagged enough under that weight to create the necessary space for squeezing through.