Tourists Terrified After Finding Bear Inside of Car in Gatlinburg

by Amy Myers
Photo by Raymond Gehman/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

A family from Alabama got the scare of a lifetime when they found a bear inside of their car while in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Raven Sartain and her family were visiting the area and had just settled into their cabin when they heard a commotion by their car. When they went to investigate, they ended up getting a little closer to the area’s wildlife than they had hoped. The bear climbed into the car and discovered a frozen treat hiding in the backseat.

“Apparently, the milkshake did bring the bears to the yard,” Sartain joked, per WVLT News.

The Alabama native believes that the animal picked up the scent of a milkshake still sitting in the car. With the window already open, it wasn’t very hard for the creature to sneak into the vehicle.

Sartain and her family aren’t locals to Gatlinburg, but they’re not strangers either. They travel to Tennessee’s mountains every year. In the past, they’ve seen bears from fairly close by, but this was by far the most alarming encounter.

What was even more concerning was the fact that local bears continued to return to their cabin following the initial sighting. At one point, a bear had even wandered up to the front door as the family watched from inside. It isn’t clear if Sartain contacted local animal authorities regarding the bears.

“They’re not scared of us so that kind of worries me,” said Sartain as she thought about how close and often the bears came to the family.

For Sartain, this was a very important reminder to keep all windows and doors closed and locked, even if they’re just moving luggage from their vehicle. The Alabama native also made sure that her family members never went outside alone.

Another Gatlinburg Bear Attacks Different Cabin Renter on Same Day

And that bad news doesn’t stop there. Surprisingly, on the same day and in the same town, a bear attacked a man that was staying in another cabin. According to authorities, the bear had entered through locked (but not deadbolted) doors and attacked the man inside. Before he could retreat to the bedroom, the visitor sustained injuries to his head and back. Thankfully, though, once he was there, he could call 9-1-1 and get help.

Of course, with such a violent interaction, wildlife officials had no other choice but to trap the 209-pound sow responsible for the attack and euthanize her.

Unfortunately, the dual bear encounters could be indication that these animals are starting to recognize the cabins and people as a source of food. To avoid future incidents, Tennessee officials reminded locals and visitors to refrain from approaching and feeding bears and any other wildlife.