Black bears in Yosemite have a penchant for breaking into cars while in search of food. Prior to 1999, when we found a car containing food and couldn’t locate the owners, there wasn’t much we could do except come back a few hours later and take a bear incident report after a bear visited the car.

So, in 1999 (I think that’s when it was), the park constructed a bearproof vehicle impound lot. Now, when we find a car containing food after dark and we can’t locate the owner, we can tow the car and put it in the bearproof impound lot. The car is safe, the bear is safe from getting human food and breakin-related injuries, and the owner, while initially annoyed, has probably been saved from hundreds of dollars in repairs (minus the tow bill + citation).

Over the winter, we found that a car inside the impound lot had been broken into by a bear… after the car was impounded. We found bear hair on the barbed wire atop the chain-link fence (12 feet high, I think it is). There was also a small section of the impound lot that was bounded by two wooden fences, which the bear had broken through. (The bear seems to have entered one way and exited the other.) So, the wooden fence problem was easy to fix: add chain-link fencing along the wooden fence.

The other day, a ranger noticed a bear atop the chain-link fence. Once, we could say it was a fluke, but twice? So, our task for this week will be to try to re-bearproof the impound lot. My thought is to add wood planks or something along the outside of the fence, so that the bear (theoretically) can’t climb the fence. We’ll see…

Really, the word “bearproof” shouldn’t exist, because bears seem to figure out how to get into practically everything, even after it’s been “bearproof” for a decade!

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