Grizzly bears use a wide variety of techniques to break into containers. Sometimes, they’ll finesse a claw into a lid to pry it open. Often, they’ll slam a container into a wall, or chew on the corners and weak points until it breaks.

Chelsea Davis’ favorite technique is the “CPR” method. A bear will place its front paws on a container, then press down with all its brawn. As soon as the material flexes, the bear will focus on that area, pushing harder and harder until the container cracks.

On Wednesday, a 19-year-old grizzly named Luna spent an hour hammering away at a cooler at Washington State University’s Bear Research Center. Staff safely pulled the item from the yard while Davis distracted Luna with a spoonful of frosting.

Through her work with bears, Davis has learned how fragile humans are in comparison. Bear-resistant coolers are heavy, and it can be difficult for a person to move one around. But in a single swipe, a bear can slide it across the ground with ease.

“They’ll do this brute force thing for the first few minutes, and then you just see them stare at it and start picking it up,” said Davis, the research center’s animal care facilities manager. “You’re like, ‘Not only is there strength, but there’s great intelligence behind it.’ That can be intimidating.”

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Billings Gazette