If you live out in the country, chances are you have a general idea of how scary it is to encounter a bear.
Whether they are marching through your backyard, crossing the street in the middle of traffic, or invading your space while you camp, bears can be a really menacing creature.
One place you may not expect to run into a bear is inside your car, but apparently they've figured that out too!
That's right, bears have figured out that our cars are full of snacks, and they taught themselves how to open the doors. The problem is, once they're in, they can't always get out.
This is the second time within the last couple of weeks where a bear made their way into a vehicle. Strangely enough both incidents involved the same type of vehicle, a Subaru Outback.
The first incident was in Connecticut when a black bear climbed into the vehicle at night. The woman who owned the car noticed the lights were on. The horn started beeping and it scared her so she called 911.
When police arrived to investigate they found a fully grown black bear ripping through her dash, clearly angry that it was trapped inside.
The officer carefully opened the door and ran to the other side, allowing the bear to escape. The bear was perfectly fine, but the car had definitely seen better days.
The same thing happened again, this time in California, when a bear broke into a vehicle and stared to tear it to shreds.
It became so badly damaged that the door wouldn't open, so the officer had to smash the window to free the poor thing.
The car was obviously destroyed, but the bear and police officer were fine.
According to the Sheriff's office, bears do this all the time. Apparently opening a car door isn't that hard for those big paws, and if they see or smell food inside they will not hesitate to climb in.
If you live somewhere that has a large bear population, the best thing you can do is be prepared.
There are a few things you need to keep in mind when it comes to staying safe:
Don't keep food in your car
If you are leaving your car for a while, do your best not to keep food in it. The smell will act as an open invitation to the bears, and you will find they are going to overstay their welcome.
Lock your doors
Learning that bears can open door handles is a surprise, but animals are way smarter than we give them credit for. If you keep your doors locked, it's likely going to discourage them from trying to get whatever it is in your car they are after.
Give bears distance
If you run into a bear in the wild, give it space. I know it may be cute, I know you may want to take a picture, but believe me, you do not want to get close to them. They like their space and if you step even one foot too close they will jump into attack mode.
If you run into a bear on a trail
If you are hiking or camping and you come across a bear while you are walking, the best thing you can do is slowly back away. Keep an eye on it (but not directly staring) while you move so you can see how it reacts, but more often than not the bear will flee from you.
Black bears can be encouraged to move
Black bears will often go away if you can yell and stand tall. But make sure you have a can of bear spray or pepper spray as a backup plan.
If a bear is protecting their young or their food get away
If you come across a bear who is eating something it caught or protecting its babies, back away slowly. Keep your bear spray ready, but try your best to back away calmly and get out of their range.
If you live in an area with bears, make sure you take the time to consider all the things you can do to prepare.
Sometimes bears end up attacking, and you need to know what to do. But other times, the reasons they follow you are something else entirely. For example, a 74-year-old man went hiking and a whole family of bears tracked him the entire way.
It's not just bears that get themselves into trouble. It seems like the whole animal kingdom is getting up to no good these days!