In the same way the velociraptors in Jurassic Park figured out how to turn door knobs, the “genius bears” of Adirondack Park here in upstate New York have solved the problem of getting that granola bar out of the bear-proof canister.
Jamie Hogan, the engineer who designed the BearVault, admitted to the New York Times this week that the product which resisted attempts to open it by bears from all around the country was thwarted by a “tiny, middle-aged” bear from North Elba named Yellow-Yellow. What’s more, she’s been teaching her technique to some “proteges.” It’s as if your three-year-old were going up and down the street telling the other toddlers how to flip the lids on those child-proof pill bottles. In fact, the safety mechanism is similar, involving a tab that has to be pushed down to turn the lid. (See the Times’ graphic showing Yellow-Yellow’s preferred method.)
Up until now, the Times says, the BearVault was popular with hikers for its light weight and tool-free opening. Now the New York State Department of Conservation is warning campers to avoid the BearVault, at least until Hogan figures out an even craftier method of opening to thwart the bears.
It’s been a while since I went camping, and even longer since I had a bear visit my campsite. (In the old days we used to hang food in stuff sacks from trees, out of reach of bears … if not squirrels.) But if I were still an active backpacker I’d be grateful Yellow-Yellow hasn’t started posting the secret on the Internet, like the guy who figured out how to pop a Kryptonite lock using a ball-point pen.