Bears have served as army corporals, competed in boxing matches, and participated in hockey games. However, they’re not known for their driving skills. That’s why police deputies in Jefferson County, Colorado, were confused when they received a call Tuesday morning from a teen claiming a black bear had locked itself inside her car, Denver7 reports.
Annie Bruecker, 17, had forgotten to lock her 2004 Subaru the evening before, but both she and police had no idea how the bear managed to open the doors and climb into the vehicle. The windows weren’t broken, ABC affiliate WSET reports, and the doors didn’t have lift-up handles. And since the freaked-out bear ravaged the car’s inside, its interior handles were damaged, National Geographic writes—meaning that the animal was locked in until Bruecker and the sheriff's office came along.
The car's windows were covered in moisture, so the medium-sized bear had clearly been trapped inside for a long period of time. Further complicating things, the doors wouldn’t open with Bruecker’s key fob button. So the sheriff’s office proceeded with extreme caution: One deputy manually popped open the car’s hatch to free it, and another waited nearby, shotgun in hand.
Fortunately the bear scampered safely off into the woods, and Bruecker surveyed the resulting damage: “The whole ceiling was ripped,” Bruecker told FOX affiliate KDVR. “The plastic sunroof cover was ripped out. My steering wheel was chewed. My neighbor actually described it as someone put a grenade in there and it just went off.”
Bruecker's experience might seem bizarre, but according to NPR, it's more common than you’d think. In Northern California, three different bears broke into three different cars, Weekend Edition’s Rachel Martin reported in 2013. Martin interviewed Anne Bryant, director of bear safety nonprofit the Bear League in Tahoe, California, who told her that bears have learned how to open car doors using their paws or teeth by watching humans. They go into the vehicles to search for food—but once the doors shut behind them, they panic, and ravage the cars' insides. Then they're trapped until a startled human encounters the bear and contacts authorities.
Bryant’s advice on preventing a bear from getting trapped in your car was short and sweet: “Lock it.”
Video courtesy of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office.
Banner image courtesy of iStock.
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