Why do Alaskan bears open car doors with their mouths or paws? Well, it is said that bears have a sense of smell which is seven times better than that of a bloodhound, which is pretty extraordinary and it means that they can pick up the smell of food from a good distance. And often food is stored in cars so, voilà, bears have learned to open the doors of cars, rummage around, grab it in their mouths and scram back into the forest. Perhaps their prey animals are in decline because of human persecution e.g. sport hunting and they have to rely on thieving human food or they just prefer it.
One such break-in took place on a quiet street in Juneau, Alaska. A pizza delivery man whose name is Andrew Fairchild was woken up by a noise outside. Somebody had apparently broken into his car and torn up the back seats and ripped out the side panels and generally trashed the interior of his car. Peering inside conscientiously he discovered who the culprit was; a bear. He knows why the bear was there! The smell of pizza had driven him to the point where he couldn’t resist the urge to break-in to his vehicle.
The bear was released by neighbours and it fled into some nearby woodland. Mr Fairchild said that he then double-backed and tried again to break-in by first opening the door to his daughter’s minivan. He caused no damage, on this occasion, to the other vehicle.
His insurers had agreed to pay the cost of repairs to his car. Royal Churchwell, a biologist for the Alaska Fish and Game Department in Juneau said that he had seen two bears on video footage opening doors with their mouths by pulling up the handle. He added that some bears occasionally use their paws. He also said, and I find this pretty tragic to be honest, that this particular individual may have to be shot if he can be discovered as apparently it is not his first break in.
This is just another little story about the interactions between bears and people and it is probably due to the fact that people build settlements on territory that is historically “owned” by bears. Without sounding too much like an animal advocate, people have stolen the land from bears which has forced them into conflict with people. When there is conflict between wild animals and people, wild animal gets shot. C’est la vie.