Bears might be the first animals so smart that they'll need their own focus groups.
San-Diego-based BearVault designs and manufactures a camping necessity: Bear-proof canisters for food. The old system of hanging your food in a plastic bag no longer works, because bears have figured out that hanging food has to be strung up by something, and if you find those strings and cut them, you can have all the beef jerky you want. Hence BearVault's canisters, which feature bear-proof lids.
However, an Adirondacks-based bear named Yellow-Yellow, who is being tracked by wildlife officials, has apparently figured out how to get the canisters open, despite them having "a complex locking system that confounds even some campers" built into the lid.
So last year [engineer Jamie Hogan, owner of BearVault] introduced [versions] with a second tab. On them, a camper must press in one tab, turn the lid partway, then press the second tab to remove the lid. "We thought, 'O.K., well, one bump didn't work so maybe two bumps will thwart her,' " he said.
But Yellow-Yellow figured that lid out, too.
...It is not certain exactly how Yellow-Yellow plundered campers' Italian sausages and granola bars, but she apparently depresses one tab with her teeth, turns the lid, uses her teeth on the second tab, and then opens it.
..."I don't think she's twisting it with her paws," said Chuck Bruha of the Mountaineer, a camping-goods store in nearby Keene Valley. "We think she's biting the lid and twisting her whole head."
As other bears in the same area have recently started following suit--are they having meetings, or what?--Mr. Hogan is going back to the drawing boards to work on a new model. We suggest a password-protection scheme, which would probably work as long as they don't use an obvious word like "honey" or its misspelled bear-parlance variant, "hunny."
via ny times