Bear Beats Bear Canisters

One smarter-than-average bear in the Adirondacks figured out how to beat canisters—and she's teaching other bears, too.
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One smarter-than-average bear in the Adirondacks figured out how to beat canisters—and she's teaching other bears, too.

Bears are getting smarter all the time—so smart that before long, they're just going to ask us to stop trying to keep our food away from them. They've figured out bear bags, and now one genius bear in the Adirondacks has mastered the formerly-foolproof BearVault bear canister.

A shy, diminutive, 125-lb., middle-aged female known as Yellow-Yellow (for two tags on her ears) has stymied both campers and wildlife officials in New York's Adirondacks, where she's raided multiple bear canisters by BearVault. No other bears in other regions are known to pull off this trick, but they're learning: It seems Yellow-Yellow might be teaching other bears her patented technique.

In order to open a BearVault, you have to depress one tab, rotate the lid, depress another tab, and pop the top off. Yellow-Yellow has figured out how to do this with her teeth, and now BearVault is specifically working on models that can beat Yellow-Yellow's groundbreaking skill.

“She’s quite talented,” said Jamie Hogan, owner of BearVault, based in San Diego. “I’m an engineer, and if one genius bear can do it, sooner or later there might be two genius bears. We’re trying to work on a new design that we can hopefully test on her.”

Luckily, Yellow-Yellow runs from people and only steals food on the sly, so officials don't see any reason to put her down. But the situation could escalate if enough bears learn her skill. Undefeated, Hogan's working on a prototype that could stop Yellow-Yellow.

By then, I worry if he'll be too late. At the rate Yellow-Yellow's progressing, she's likely to steal our wallets and keys and just drive to Wendy's herself.

—Ted Alvarez

Bear-proof can is pop-top picnic for crafty thief (NY Times)

Image credit: jepoirrier (via Flickr)