Encounters between vehicles and wildlife seldom end well, but this video at least offers a happy ending for flesh and blood creatures. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the interior of this third-generation Toyota RAV4, in which a young black bear took up unintended residence for a few hours. And it wasn't for a nap.
Recently shared on YouTube through ViralHog, the incident took place in rural Virginia on 6 June. According to the video description, the vehicle owner headed out around 10:00 AM local time and, upon approach, noticed the airbags were deployed and the windscreen was cracked. That's when the bear was spotted inside, lunging towards the window. We imagine that was quite a horror-movie moment, but thanks to a Facebook post from Mindy Maine, we don't need to imagine. In a word, blimey.
For reasons that should be plainly obvious, nobody went inside or even opened a door. Instead, authorities were notified and a conservation police officer showed up in about 90 minutes to help out. Rather smartly, a rope was tied to the door handle so it could be opened from the safety of another vehicle. After a few moments, the bear hopped out and scampered away, looking none the worse for wear. It's unclear exactly how long the creature had been inside; comments on the video say the SUV had been unlocked and the bear entered at some point through the night.
The Facebook photos show the RAV4 essentially gutted on the inside. The dash was torn apart, headliner ripped down, seats shredded, all in addition to the smashed windscreen and deployed airbags. Presumably, the bear had been in there for quite some time and was antsy to get away. Per the Facebook post, the vehicle was written off as a total loss by insurance.
Dealing With Bears
This certainly isn't the first time we've seen bears inside vehicles. Lest we forget the brave woman using her authoritative mom voice to chase a bear out of a GMC Sierra Denali, but is that a smart way to deal with bears? We checked in with the state of Colorado, where bears are certainly plentiful.
The best defence is to keep bears out in the first place, which means always locking the doors. They're smart enough to use door handles, and if there's some tasty food inside, bears can smell it. Don't keep food in the car, or if you're camping, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) recommends storing it in bear-proof lockers well away from cars and tents.
If a bear is already on-site (or any dangerous, wild animal for that matter) it's best to contact authorities first. If there's an immediate threat, CPW advises people to not turn and run. Make loud noises, wave your arms, anything to make yourself look big and scary. Bears generally don't consider humans as food sources, but a bag of chips inside an unlocked pickup truck is a midnight snack just waiting to happen.
As we move into the summer months, bears will be extremely active. Stay safe out there, everyone.