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Why Bears Prefer Minivans

A study from 2009 tries to explain why bears in Yosemite attack minivans far more than any other vehicle.

From 2001 to 2007 bears broke into 908 vehicles at the following rates: minivan (26.0%), sport–utility vehicle (22.5%), small car (17.1%), sedan (13.7%), truck (11.9%), van (4.2%), sports car (1.7%), coupe (1.7%), and station wagon (1.4%). Only use of minivans (29%) during 2004–2005 was significantly higher than expected (7%). We discuss several competing hypotheses about why bears selected minivans.

The PDF is very interesting as it shows a percentage of break-ins relative to presence. Minivans are comparably rare but experience a very high rate of break-ins. SUVs are also frequently broken into, but a high percentage of visitors to the park come in SUVs. Station wagons and vans, which could easily replace minivans and SUVs in functionality, have an extremely low risk.

Spoiler alert. The factors suggested are that minivans are messier and smell like food even if there is none present, minivans tend to leave food present, minivans have windows easier for the bears to pop out, and bears have learned to identify the minivan as a more likely source of food.

It reads as much like a study of human behavior by bears as a study of bear behavior by humans.

Posted in Food, Security.


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  1. Murray S. says

    I had a good chuckle when I read your last line.



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