A black bear in Sevierville, Tennessee, died after getting stuck inside a hot parked car where it was possibly rummaging for food, authorities said Thursday.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said in a statement posted to Facebook that a bear entered a car parked at a Sevierville rental cabin on Wednesday after the car's owner left the cabin at 10 a.m. The owner returned at 6:45 p.m and found the bear dead inside the vehicle, the statement said.
Wildlife officials say they believe the bear used its teeth or paws to open the unlocked door and then got trapped inside after the door shut behind it. Once stuck inside, the bear likely died due to the extreme heat. Temperatures that day exceeded 95 degrees, which meant the interior of the car "possibly reached over 140 degrees," wildlife officials said.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said the incident is "a good example of how garbage kills," writing that the bear was most likely lured into the car by left behind food.
The agency posted a series of photos showing the bear slumped over the center console of the vehicle surrounded by trash, including a can of soda on the floor of the backseat.
Wildlife officials implored that people do their best not to leave any candy wrappers, fast food bags or empty food containers in their vehicles.
"Notice the empty soda can and food package on the floorboard," the agency said in the post. "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!" the agency added.