CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

The Best Paragraph I read Today

photo by fantomaster/flickr

From the Journal of Mammalogy:

There are several non–mutually exclusive hypotheses for why bears selected minivans. First, it is possible that minivans were more likely to emit food odors regardless of whether they contained meaningful amounts of food available. This argument is based on the fact that minivans are designed for families with children and small children in particular are notorious for spilling food and drink while riding in vehicles. Thus, vehicles transporting children would emit greater food odors, making them attractive to bears. If this hypothesis is correct then any vehicle transporting small children, regardless of class type, should be targeted by bears. To test this supposition, park personnel collecting information on vehicles broken into should also note whether car seats were present, or whether small children are regularly transported in the vehicle, or both.

From a fascinating study looking at which vehicles seemed to occasion the most ursine break-ins in Yosemite National Park (“SELECTIVE FORAGING FOR ANTHROPOGENIC RESOURCES BY BLACK BEARS: MINIVANS IN YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK,” by STEWART W. BRECK, NATHAN LANCE, AND VICTORIA SEHER); perhaps inevitably, in terms of animal/vehicle adaptation, it reminded me of the observations of crows using pedestrian signal crossings to retrieve the nuts they had dropped into the street (where they could be “opened” by passing cars).

Note to thieves: Another reason bears favored minivans is that they’re easier to break into.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 at 6:38 am and is filed under Traffic Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “The Best Paragraph I read Today”

  1. Rich Wilson Says:

    http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/08/security_is_a_t.html

    Said one park ranger, “There is considerable overlap between the intelligence of the smartest bears and the dumbest tourists.”

  2. Gail Williams Says:

    There are some additional anecdotes about bears knowing what car models to break into at the Tom Vanderbilt interview at
    http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/ , which is wrapping up today.

    The dumbest tourists clearly can distinguish car models, and so can almost all the bears. (A ranger friend of mine once said that the smart bears must use winter for seminars instead of hibernating, since they all seem to pick up a new behavior the year after an innovator figures it out. Trendy critters! )

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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