Black Bear Foraging For Food inside Car Gets Trapped, Dies in 140 Degrees Heat

A black bear has died inside a car parked at a rental cabin in Sevierville, 30 miles from Knoxville in East Tennessee. The bear had been foraging for food and possibly got into the car by opening the door with its paw and teeth. The temperature was above 95 degrees on Wednesday, and it could have exceeded 140 degrees inside the locked car, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) said.

The wildlife agency said the car owner left the cabin in another car on Wednesday morning and returned at about 6:45 pm to find the bear dead in his car. Wildlife experts said the bear was possibly drawn to the car by the smell of food in the vehicle – an empty soda can and food wrapper were on the floor of the car.

“Notice the empty soda can and food package on the floorboard,” the TWRA stated. “Bears have noses seven times better than a bloodhound and can smell even the faintest odor of food inside a vehicle. Lock your doors, roll up your windows, and never leave food or anything that smells like food inside!”

The agency said bears get attracted to “empty food containers, candy wrappers, fast food bags, and even air fresheners.” They said bears are inquisitive animals who often investigate things when their natural diet of berries is scarce – usually around May and June. They said the animal gets attracted to human settlements because of the attraction of food in houses and waste dumps.

Photos of the car’s interior show that the bear struggled to exit the vehicle without success; he damaged the interior in its frantic efforts to leave. Experts said the bear died of a heatwave because it is not able to sweat as humans do, so it dies of organ failure when its furry body is not able to regulate excessive heat.

The authorities said the heat will soar in the next two weeks in Sevierville, and warned everyone to take precautions. People in Dallas, Jacksonville, Mobile, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge are warned of a rising heatwave, with heat alerts going out to people frequently. Sevierville is close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which has about 1,500 bear population.