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Yosemite Bears Prefer Minivans for Snack Attacks

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Yosemite Bears Prefer Minivans for Snack Attacks

Postby rlown » Thu Oct 15, 2009 7:35 pm

Fun with statistics in Yose:

Yosemite Bears Prefer Minivans for Snack Attacks
Be sure to clean up your vehicle, or just take the sports car next time
By OLSEN EBRIGHT
Updated 12:00 PM PDT, Thu, Oct 15, 2009

When it comes to snack time, black bears in Yosemite National Park have a favorite automotive treasure trove: the minivan.

From 2001 to 2007, bears broke into 908 vehicles at the park. Of those break-ins, a whopping 26 percent were minivans, according to the Journal of Mammalogy.

Top Cars Black Bears Target:


Minivan -- 26.0 percent
Sport-utility vehicle -- 22.5 percent
Small car -- 17.1 percent
Sedan -- 13.7 percent
Truck -- 11.9 percent
Van -- 4.2 percent
Sports car -- 1.7 percent
Coupe -- 1.7 percent
Station wagon -- 1.4 percent

But why minivans? Why not full-sized vans or perhaps the station wagon? According to the article, the Yosemite foragers are smarter than the average bear. They're actually contemplating risk versus reward:

"Selection of minivans by bears in Yosemite National Park was the likely consequence of efforts to maximize caloric gain and minimize costs by targeting vehicles with higher probabilities of payoff. ... The trade-off between food acquisition and penal actions by humans likely pressured bears to target vehicles with the highest probability of attaining food," according to the article.

There are a few other theories out there, according to the article:


"First, it is possible that minivans were more likely to emit food odors regardless of whether they contained meaningful amounts of food available."
"Second, it is possible that passengers of minivans were more prone to leave large caches of food (e.g., coolers or grocery bags) in vehicles parked overnight."
"Third, it is possible that minivans were structurally easier to break into than other vehicles."

Plus, it's possible the break-ins are the result of just a few bad bears, and not a reflection of the whole population -- very similar to the Jellystone Park break-ins.

Either way, next time you visit Yosemite, be sure to take the Lamborghini. Or as Carla Hall of the LA Times points out: "Store your grub in a food locker on your way into the park." Good advice.




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Re: Yosemite Bears Prefer Minivans for Snack Attacks

Postby The Other Tom » Fri Oct 16, 2009 4:05 am

Hmmmm.....so maybe 26% of the vehicles entering Yosemite are minivans, hence 26% of the vehicles broken into are minivans ? In other words, the bears "pick on" minivans because there are more of them to choose from ?
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Re: Yosemite Bears Prefer Minivans for Snack Attacks

Postby rayfound » Fri Oct 16, 2009 7:33 am

The Other Tom wrote:Hmmmm.....so maybe 26% of the vehicles entering Yosemite are minivans, hence 26% of the vehicles broken into are minivans ? In other words, the bears "pick on" minivans because there are more of them to choose from ?



I thought the same thing... without a backdrop of what the population of vehicles in Yosemite looks like, these stats are completely meaningless. If 30% of the vehicles in Yosemite are Minivans, then they may be at LOWER RISK than other vehicles.


My hunch is that SUVs and Minivans make up a large portion of the visitors, because they can both hold a whole family, AND all their crap. Its an obvious choice of vehicle to take into the park.
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Re: Yosemite Bears Prefer Minivans for Snack Attacks

Postby rlown » Fri Oct 16, 2009 7:51 pm

Ok.. good points. Turns out they did sample the cars per another article i found closer to the source of the Journal:

From 2001 to 2007, minivans ranked first or second in vehicle break-ins by black bears in Yosemite Valley, the team reports. To find out whether this trend was simply due to a high number of minivans, the researchers recorded the make and model of 3,766 vehicles in the area from 2004 to 2005. They found that the minivan break-in rate during that time was more than 4 times higher than what one would predict based on the number of minivans parked overnight.

Bears may be attracted to minivans because those vehicles are popular among families with children, whose spilled food and drink could leave an odor, the authors say. Alternatively, observations suggest that bears can open the rear side windows of minivans more easily than those of other vehicles. Since most break-ins are likely due to a small number of bears, it’s also possible that a few bears are just repeating the same behavior. Managers may need to offer more education for drivers with children, boost efforts to ensure that food is stored properly, or deal with “problem” bears, the team says. – Roberta Kwok

Source: Breck, S., Lance, N., & Seher, V. (2009). Selective Foraging for Anthropogenic Resources by Black Bears: Minivans in Yosemite National Park Journal of Mammalogy, 90 (5), 1041-1044 DOI: 10.1644/08-MAMM-A-056.1

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