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Black Bear Dies in Tennessee After Becoming Trapped in Hot Car

Wildlife agency warns residents not to leave food in cars.

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A black bear died after getting stuck inside a hot car in Tennessee while searching for food.

According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the bear entered an unlocked sport utility vehicle in the town of Sevierville on Wednesday morning, and then became stuck in the vehicle after the door shut behind it. The town, located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains, endured soaring temperatures that afternoon, and investigators believe animal overheated to death.

“We believe that heat likely killed the bear as outside temperatures exceeded 95 degrees yesterday, meaning the vehicle’s interior possibly reached over 140 degrees,” officials from the agency said on Facebook.

The owner of the vehicle left at approximately 10 a.m. and returned at 6:45 p.m. that evening and found the deceased bear inside. The bear had gained entry by pulling the door open with its claws or teeth and become trapped when the vehicle door shut behind it. A photo of the car showed food packages and an empty soda can inside the vehicle, and officials warned locals to remove food from their vehicles.

“Bears have noses 7 times better than a bloodhound and can smell even the faintest odor of food inside a vehicle,” the agency said. “Lock your doors, roll up your windows, and never leave food or anything that smells like food inside.”

Black bears regularly break into cars in mountainous areas in the U.S., and frequently become trapped inside after the doors shut. Generally, bears escape from these situations without suffering any serious harm, though they typically cause serious damage to or total the vehicles involved. In Colorado, one bear even accidentally shifted a Subaru Outback into gear and crashed it into a tree while attempting to ransack it for snacks.


From 2022