Black bear dies after locking itself inside 140-degree car while sniffing for food

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A black bear was found dead inside a parked vehicle outside Knoxville, Tennessee, after accidentally locking itself inside while searching for food, authorities said. 

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency released a statement last week with images of the bear and the opened food. The incident occurred at a rental cabin in Sevierville. The owner had left the vehicle at 10 a.m., and the bear was found around 7 p.m. Temperatures in the area at the time were near 100 degrees. 

“It appears that the bear got inside the car by using its teeth or paws to open the unlocked door and was trapped inside after the door shut behind it,” the statement read.

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“We believe that the heat likely killed the bear as outside temperatures exceeded 95 degrees…meaning the vehicle’s interior possibly reached over 140 degrees.” 

The wildlife resources agency included images of the dead bear and packages of food in a call to action for people to keep animals and themselves safe. 

“Here is a good example of how #garbagekillsbears,” the statement read. “Notice the empty soda can and food package on the floorboard. Bears have noses 7 times better than a bloodhound and can smell even the faintest odor of food inside a vehicle. Lock your doors, roll up your windows, and never leave food or anything that smells like food inside!”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services, black bears are undoubtedly “food-driven animals” and in numerous parts of the country can break into vehicles if drivers don’t take proper precautions.