Bears Suspected in Wave of N.H. Auto Break-Ins

Multiple vehicles have been torn apart.
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Multiple vehicles have been torn apart.

New Hampshire black bears are awake, and they're apparently on a crime spree: Officials are blaming a recent string of car break-ins on voracious bruins.

Bears have been known to smash windows and rip open doors if they smell even the slightest trace of food in a vehicle (BACKPACKER's resident expert cops to this). "I saw the radio had been pulled out and I thought someone stole my radio," truck owner Terry Leavitt told local news station WMUR.

When bears awaken in spring, they have lost up to one-third of their body weight during hibernation and are looking to replenish calories any way they can. And though black bears are opportunistic above all, there's at least some evidence to suggest that certain types of vehicles are at higher risk. A 2009 study in the Journal of Mammalogy found that over 25% of bear-vandalized autos in Yosemite National Park were minivans, leading some experts to hypothesize that family vehicles (with a higher amount of spilled food and drink) are more likely to emit food odors.

New Hampshire wildlife officials, for their part, are urging residents to take extra precautions and bring other known bear attractants (such as bird feeders) inside for the time being.

Read more: WMUR