New Study: Black Bears Prefer a Roomier Vehicle

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Every year the race to build the perfect animal-oriented automobile grows more intense. Kia tried to tap into the hamster demographic with this spot (music by Blacksheep). Not to be out done, Jeep tried to go after the entire woodland forest population. And as recently as 2011, Nissan went after the elusive “polar dollar” with this ad.

But it wasn’t until now that scientists have done any serious research into what a bear is really looking for in a vehicle. According to a study on black bears recently published in the Journal of Mammalogy, a bear is only looking for one thing: space.

They’re also not big on personal property rights.

The study showed that Yosemite National Park’s black bears selected roomier vehicles (SUVs, minivans, and vans) to break into 52.7% of the time when compared all other categories of vehicles (trucks, small cars, sedans, sports cars, coupes, and station wagons).

Of course, research scientists don’t think the bears are selecting big rides just for the flashy rims and extra leg room.

In fact, they think it might not have anything to do with driving at all. According the study, minivans (the most broken into category of vehicle) may have been broken into because they “were more likely to emit food odors regardless of whether they contained meaningful amounts of food available […] 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.”

That’s right. If a bear tries to steal your car, it’s your kids’ fault.

If you’re interested in reading the study and finding some explanations of this bizarre bear behavior you can find it here (pdf).

But be aware… they have yet to explain this: