A Ucluelet black bear became trapped inside a vehicle on Friday morning and obliterated the interior before being freed.
Local senior Katharine Fleming told the Westerly News she had gone outside to get her dogs’ leashes and come back into her home when she heard a car horn honking in her driveway. She said her friend suspected someone was trying to break into her vehicle, but when she looked, she realized something much stranger was happening.
“The car started rocking, I mean really rocking, and I said, ‘That’s not a human in there, a human can’t do that’ and we realized it was a bear,” Fleming said. “It was absolutely terrifying and I knew he was desperate to get out.”
She added that the car’s doors were closed but unlocked and it’s unclear how the bear got in as there was no damage to the exterior, but the door had closed behind it, trapping it inside.
“He’s smart. He has figured out how to get in, how to open the door,” she said. “The door was closed and he managed to retract the latch and pull the door open and, when you see the door, there’s no marks.”
Sgt. Kevin Smith of the Ucluelet RCMP confirmed that a police officer responded to the scene and managed to get the bear out.
“He looped a rope around the door handle so that he could stand a safe distance away while pulling the rope to open the door,” Smith told the Westerly. “The bear exited the van and went on its way.”
Fleming suggested the bear scampered off in a hurry.
“He took off,” she said. “He didn’t want to be here any more than we wanted him to be here.”
She added that there “wasn’t a single solitary speck of food in our van” and suspects the bear had likely found food in other vehicles and started thinking of them as food sources.
The situation is now being investigated by the BC Conservation Officer Service and Fleming fears the bear will likely be killed after showing such heavy signs of habituation.
She hopes the incident serves as a strong reminder to both residents and visitors that they must always keep their attractions secured and never feed wildlife.
“The thing that is the most important about all of this is that people, tourists and locals, have to be bear aware,” she said. “If we’re going to live on the West Coast or visit the West Coast, we have to be aware that this is called the Wild West Coast for a reason. Animals have their rights here and we need to stop encroaching on them or encouraging them just to get that great picture or that great video because we’re killing off the very thing that people want to see when they come here.”
She added that along with raising her anxiety, the incident has also brought a financial hit as the vehicle was not insured due to confusion with her insurance provider.
“Really, it’s a comedy of errors and we’re left with a car that is dismantled inside and no insurance,” she said. “I’m screwed financially, but more important than that, a bear is going to lose his life.”