An employee at Cascade Vacation Rentals in Lutsen got a surprise when she opened the lid on a dumpster, secured shut with bear bars, to find two bear cubs inside on Wednesday.
Bara Raa Gregoire was throwing out her trash at the Lutsen campus about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday when she saw the cubs inside the dumpster, which was about two blocks behind the resort's main office building along Highway 61, according to resort spokesman Jaye White.
"I just went to dumpster and both bars were on it and when I opened it, the bear was sitting in the dumpster!!" she texted to the maintenance team. "I wonder how that is even possible with it being barred shut?!? I ran off with my trash, but didn't put the bars back on or look to see if the bear jumped out."
Arriving to investigate, Cascade Vacation Rentals owner Steve Surbaugh found the cubs still inside - too small to be able to get out on their own - and an adult bear in a tree nearby.
Surbaugh, along with employees Andrew Beavers and Mike "Chili" Groth, fashioned a ladder out of a broken futon frame and lowered it into the dumpster. On the other side, they created noise and banged against the side until one of the cubs slowly made its way up the makeshift ladder and leaped out. The cub quickly joined the bear in the tree, according to White. The second cub was more reserved, popping its head out then quickly going back into the bin a couple of times before it finally made the leap out and was reunited with its family, according to White.
All three bears came down from the tree and ran off into the nearby woods unharmed. The staff is investigating how the bears managed to get into the dumpsters with the bear bars attached and the lid secured, according to White.
"It just goes to show how tricky it can be to keep the bears at bay as they try to fatten up for their winter hibernation," White wrote.