GATLINBURG, Tenn. — I guess it's a good thing the keys weren't inside...
A closed door was no problem for this black bear in Gatlinburg!
Diana Sosa captured this video of a bear casually moseying up to a mini-van parked in a driveway in the Ski Mountain Road area. The van belonged to a Virginia family who was visiting Gatlinburg. The bear had two cubs with her, but they didn't join her on her quest.
Hmmmmm... wonder if there's any snacks inside???
The bear rises up on her back legs and reaches for the handles of both the driver's side door and the sliding side door.
Think I've done this before? Um, yeah.
The side door starts sliding open first, then closes again. But this bear is no quitter. She keeps tugging until not only the side door slides open, but also the driver's door!
The bear climbs into the driver's seat and then begins exploring inside, probably hoovering up any leftover crumbs. Since you can see a car seat in the van, you know there are small bites of snacks scattered around.
Ooooh! Little human left some Cheerios!!!
Once the bear completes her circuit inside the van, she exits out the side door and continues on her way. Luckily, it doesn't appear she was too destructive! Not everyone is so lucky:
The van's owner reached out to 10News after she saw the video. Laura said she is a Knoxville native and had never seen a bear outside the Cades Cove loop before, but that changed on this day!
She and her family missed the bear when it was inside the van, but saw her and the cubs on the road as they were returning from a hike. She said there was a dusty paw print or two by the handles on the front seat, which she blamed on her four-year-old until the woman who took the video stopped by to tell them what had happened!
For the record, it appears that Sosa took the video from inside another car parked at a safe distance. You should never approach bears in the wild!
So, what are the best ways to co-exist with the bears?
- Never feed or approach bears-- this includes carefully managing sources of human food or garbage to make sure the bears can't access it or aren't attracted to the area. When camping in bear country, keep all food stored in a vehicle and away from tents.
- If you live in a town near black bear habitats, you should not store food, garbage or other recyclables in areas accessible to bears. You also should avoid feeding birds or other wildlife where bears are active.
- Outdoor pets should only be fed a portion they will completely consume, and keeping grills and smokers cleaned and stored securely will also help deter bears.
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- If you do encounter a bear, remove whatever attracted the bear to come into your area. There is almost always a safe escape route when bears enter towns. Crowd control is the initial concern as the behavior of a cornered bear can be unpredictable. Immediately report to the TWRA or local police any sightings of bears within areas of human population centers.
- While black bears are usually tolerant of humans, they should always be treated as wild animals, whether in residential or backcountry areas. Black bears are rarely aggressive towards people and typically go out of their way to avoid contact, however as human development continues and bear numbers increase, occasional interactions will be unavoidable.
- If you see a black bear from a distance, alter your route of travel, return the way you came, or wait until it leaves the area. Make your presence known by yelling and shouting at the bear in an attempt to scare it away.
- If approached by a bear, stand your ground, raise your arms to appear larger, yell and throw rocks or sticks until it leaves the area. Never run from a black bear! This will often trigger its natural instinct to chase.
- For more information on how to peacefully co-exist with black bears, visit www.tn.gov.