Bears Beat BearVault, Haven't Discovered Fire - Yet

I couldn't resist this story about the BearVault 500 being compromised by a genius bear named Yellow-Yellow. The BearVault 500 is a reputedly bear-proof canister for use by hikers; it is approved by both the Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group and the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee for use in national parks.


(BearVault 500)

The BearVault's "super rugged transparent polycarbonate housing" and intricate lid have defeated test bears and wild bears alike.

But not a shy middle-aged black bear in the Adirondacks.

... wildlife officials say that Yellow-Yellow, a 125-pound bear named for two yellow ear tags that help wildlife officials keep tabs on her, has managed to systematically decipher a complex locking system that confounds even some campers.

In the process, she has emerged as a near-mythical creature in the High Peaks region of the northeastern Adirondacks.

“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.”

Sci-Fi fans are excited about this development because they knew there was more to Terry Bisson's wonderful short story Bears Discover Fire than mere whimsy.

The fire was mostly of sycamore and beech branches, the kind that puts out very little light or heat and lots of smoke. The bears hadn't learned the ins and outs of wood yet. They did okay at tending it, though. A cinnamon-brown northern-looking bear was poking the fire with a stick, adding a branch now and then from a pile at his side...

Okay, maybe this isn't an sfnal prediction of bears discovering fire, but I couldn't resist it. Be sure to find a copy of Bisson's excellent short story collection Bears Discover Fire, and read the rest of the story at NYTimes.com.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/25/2009)

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