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Local Sports

November 23, 2012

Yellow Yellow was one smart bear

There have been a handful of memorable bears over the years.

We all remember the honey-loving Winnie the Pooh. There’s also Smokey the Bear, who became the spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

Bart the Bear was a 1,500-pound Alaskan brown bear that starred in Hollywood films such as The Edge and Legends of the Fall.

Walt Disney made Baloo famous in its rendition of Kipling’s The Jungle Book. And who could forget Yogi Bear? You know, the famous raider of pic-a-nic baskets.

There’s another one we should remember, though.

Yellow Yellow was a very smart bear that lived out of hikers’ backpacks in the Adirondacks for nearly two decades. Many wilderness travelers lost their provisions to her over the years. Being that most people have a natural fear of bears, it was easy for the bears of the High Peaks to wander into a camp and pilfer what they wanted. Those black, furry creatures never feared hikers and campers. Instead, the bears viewed them as an easy source of food.

Backpackers hung their food in trees for quite a while, but black bears have no trouble negotiating the tallest of timber. So they tried hanging food bags on a rope suspended between two trees. But it didn’t take long before the bears figured out a piece of white, nylon rope meant a free meal. So they tried black rope, hoping the bears wouldn’t notice. Ha! That only worked for a very short time.

Finally, someone invented the bear canister — a hard, plastic container that was supposed to be bear proof. Many such devices have come and gone because they didn’t work very well. Sooner or later, the bears learned how to open most of them. Maybe these bears learned by staying just far enough back in the woods to watch unsuspecting campers open those canisters. Or maybe there were some that were like Yogi — “smarter than the average bear.”

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