Black Bear Dies After Getting Trapped in Car for Nine Hours in Triple-Digit Temperatures

by Bryan Fyalkowski

A black bear in Tennessee died this week after climbing into a Jeep looking for food and then getting trapped inside. The car was parked outside a rental cabin in Sevierville where outside temperatures reached nearly 100 degrees.

The Jeep’s doors were unlocked and the bear found itself a way in sometime during the day. After the bear entered, the door closed and it was unable to escape, per WVLT.

When the car’s owner returned around 7 p.m., he discovered the bear dead inside and immediately called officials. The bear was believed to experience extreme heat over 140 degrees while trapped inside the car.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency found an empty bag of chips and a soda can in the car. They believe the remnants of food were what attracted it to search inside.

“Here is a good example of how garbage kills bears,” the TWRA posted in a statement on Facebook. “Bears have noses seven times better than a bloodhound and can smell even the faintest odor of food inside a vehicle.”

Maybe the small empty bag of chips caused the bear to search inside. Maybe it was just a bit too curious. Either way, this was a freak accident and such an incredibly upsetting way for an animal to die.

Another Black Bear Incident in Tennessee

This is the second instance of a black bear’s unfortunate demise in Sevierville, Tennessee, in the past two weeks. Last Thursday, a ninety-year-old woman named Altha Williams had to use a lawn chair in self-defense when a bear attacked her on her porch.

The bear – who had three cubs – approached and attacked Williams on her porch. Williams said the bear made a lunge at her, but she was able to fend it off with only that minor injury.

“I’ve been praising the Lord ever since then, because I may not be here,” she said.

After that, the bear left Williams’ porch and actually charged at a neighbor, who shot it in self-defense. Unfortunately, the TWRA must euthanize the bear because it went out of its way to attack humans in a populated area.

“We don’t just euthanize bears based on personal feelings. Once a bear has made contact with a person and caused injury we have no choice but to euthanize it,” he said. “It can’t be relocated.”

TWRA spokesperson Matt Cameron said Williams did make one mistake, however. She had occasionally thrown food scraps outside that may have attracted the bears.

“It’s one of the worst things you can do for bears,” Cameron said. “When bears learn to associate humans with food, encounters can increase.”