A tagged black bear in Yosemite Valley. Photo by Simon Phipps.
Yes, it’s true, Researchers have found that black bears searching for food in Yosemite National Park have been targeting minivans over other types of vehicles. In a recent article that appeared in the Journal of Mammology, researchers have found that black bears in Yosemite break into minivans almost 4 times as often as other vehicles.
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. (Conservation Magazine)