Bear Takes Car on Short Joyride in Colorado

This photo provided by Ben Story shows a bear inside Story's car early morning on Friday, July 23, 2010, in Larkspur, Colo. Story said the bear got into his empty car, honked the horn and sent it rolling into a thicket with the bear inside. Ben Story said he and his family were asleep in their Larkspur home, 30 miles south of Denver, during the joyride early Friday. The teen said the bear got into the car through an unlocked door and knocked the shifter into neutral, which sent it rolling backward 125 feet. Story thinks the door slammed shut when the car jolted to a stop, trapping the bear inside. The bear trashed the inside of the car. Sheriff's deputies released the bear using a rope to open the door. (AP Photo/Ben Story) AP Photo/Ben Story

A bear got into an empty car, honked the horn and then sent it rolling 125 feet into a thicket, with the bear still inside, a Colorado family said.

Seventeen-year-old Ben Story said he and his family were asleep in their Larkspur home, 30 miles south of Denver, when the bear managed to open the unlocked door of his 2008 Toyota Corolla early Friday and climbed inside.

A peanut butter sandwich left on the back seat is probably what attracted the bear, Story said.

It's not unusual for bears to open unlocked doors to cars and houses in search of food, said Tyler Baskfield, a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

"It happens all the time," he said. "They're very smart."

Once inside, the bear must have knocked the shifter on the automatic transmission into neutral, sending the car rolling backward down the inclined driveway and into the thicket, Story said.

The door probably slammed shut when the car jolted to a stop, he said, trapping the bear inside.

Neighbors had called 911, and deputies freed the bear by opening the door with a rope from a distance. It then ran into the woods.

Story said he'll need a new car because the bear trashed the interior while apparently trying to find a way out.

The bear also left what Story called "a present" on the driver's seat.

"A nice pile, actually," added his dad, Ralph. "Something to remember."

Baskfield said such incidents are worrisome because they endanger the bear as well as the public. Wildlife managers trap and kill problem bears that learn to scavenge for human food and garbage.

"Food was left in the car. It's troubling for us," he said.
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