Mother bear with five cubs breaks into car to grab an easy meal (this is why you should always lock your doors)

Black bear and cub in tree
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bears are intelligent, dextrous, and quick to spot an easy meal – as one driver learned the hard way recently in the Great Smoky Mountains.

A video recorded by a resident's Ring doorbell captured the moment a mother bear approached an unattended vehicle with her unusually large litter of five cubs. In the clip, which you can watch below, the adult pulls herself onto her hind legs to investigate an open window. 

Having smelled something interesting, she easily climbs up the door, leans inside, and retrieves a bag of food.

Wild animals accessing human food is a serious problem, whether it's a result of carelessness or people deliberately feeding them. Animals that get used to interacting with people become habituated, meaning they lose their natural wariness around humans.

This makes them more likely to seek out people and settlements in future, and increases the risk of a dangerous close encounter. Bears are likely to lash out if their or their food source is threatened, and bears that injure a person may be relocated or even euthanized for public safety. Habituation can also make them more likely to be hit by cars, or become targets for poachers.

Bear safety

The National Park Service (NPS) warns people visiting the Great Smoky Mountains that the whole area is bear territory, and around 340 negative bear encounters are reported each year (with many more going unreported). 

"The bear's keen sense of smell leads it to insects, nuts, and berries, but the animal is also enticed by the tantalizing smells of human food and garbage such as hot dogs, apple cores, chips, and watermelon rinds left on the ground in picnic areas, campgrounds, and along trails," says the NPS.

Park Rangers can issue citations for people who litter, feed bears, or store food incorrectly. Those found guilty could face a fine up to $5,000, and up to six months in jail.

"Visitors are urged to view all wildlife at a safe distance and to never throw food or garbage on the ground or leave it unattended," the NPS says. "Garbage kills bears!"

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.