Image: Signs in Yosemite Warn About Bears Seeking Food in Cars, via Flickr
It was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that led to the demise of Ben Story's car. A hungry bear managed to get into the car looking for the morsel Ben left on the back seat. Somehow, the bear knocked the car into neutral; it rolled backwards downhill, into a thicket, slamming the door closed and trapping the bear in the process. The bear is OK. The car is a mess.A neighbor heard the bear honking and went to investigate. Finding the car still shaking violently in a grove of bushes and trees that stopped the bear's joyride, the neighbor alerted the county sheriff. Deputies freed the bear, using a long rope to open the door of the 2008 Toyota Corolla.
What Ben found after the bear left was hardly recognizable as a car. The bear gutted the interior -- a not uncommon phenomena when a bear gets into a panic after entering the confines of a vehicle. The bear also left a nice package in Ben's driver's seat; we guess it must have enjoyed that sandwich! Fortunately, the damage will be covered by insurance.
Ben Story provided a photo of the bear in his car to AP news outlets. Ben told the Denver Post: "He was just looking for something to eat; that's what bears do. Anyone who lives out here knows there's going to be wildlife here. We learn to live with it."
Mishaps between wildlife and humans are on the rise, as wild animals have a harder time finding their natural food sources, or simply find it easier (and tastier?) to steal ours. Bears' sensitive sense of smell will lead them to food left in a vehicle, even if it is still sealed in its original packaging. Even bags of dog food or birdseed can attract bears.
Sadly, wild animals learn from their successes stealing food. If you leave food in a vehicle, garage or around the house for an animal to steal, you may be writing a death sentence for the innocently hungry animal. Wild animals in the habit of messing with humans often must be "eliminated" in order to solve the problem.
More Bears meet Humans:
Slideshow: When Animals Encounter Humans: Habitat Loss Stories, Both Tragic and Comic
Bear vs. Bike: Cyclist Hits 300-Pound Black Bear
Escaped Circus Bear Shot by Police
Grizzly Bears Starve to Death as Salmon Disappear
69 Bear Invasions In New Jersey Last Year: Hunt On
Bear Attacks Biodiesel Car
From the Forums: Black Bears Prefer Minivans