Just because it’s not a grizzly doesn’t mean you can rest easy around these large animals. Black bears have a reputation for being shy, easy to scare, and sometimes not very smart, but they can still surprise you. In fact, those who live in black bear territory will be the first to tell you that these bears can learn pretty fast.
This video recently surfaced online, showing a family of tourists watching a bear from their car. It is not known when or where this footage was taken, but it is immediately clear that the tourists have little experience with black bears—letting it come close enough to touch the car door. Close enough to open it, in fact.
To their dismay, the family realized that leaving their car door unlocked around a bear—not to mention having the windows rolled down—was not a great idea. The bear easily opened the door, prompting screams from inside the van. Luckily for the family, the bear apparently decided that it didn’t want to squeeze into the car that badly.
Black bears are notorious for opening car doors, but these kinds of incidents appear to be rising. There have been numerous cases in past years of bears locking themselves inside cars, at times having to be carefully extracted by game wardens. Experts say this is part of a new phenomenon they believe is related to social learning. Essentially, since efforts to bear-proof garbage and other easily accessible sources of food have stepped up, bears are now learning new ways to get at human grub. The worst part? Experts say that bears can pass on these behaviors to their young.
“They learn very quickly, if there’s a reward, how to get that,” animal-human interaction specialist Kirsten Leong told The Guardian.
A warning to tourists: now that the campground has been cleaned up, bears may start eyeing your cars for food.