A bear destroyed the interior of a woman's car in South Lake Tahoe, after it climbed into the vehicle and became trapped inside.
Video footage of the ordeal shows the animal gnawing at the upholstery lining the driver's side door as its owner, Alejandra Hernandez, reacts to the unusual predicament from the porch of a cabin nearby. Hernandez works as a wedding content creator and had traveled to South Lake Tahoe, a resort city on Lake Tahoe in northern California, for a bachelorette party,reported. She recounted the experience in an interview with the news station recently.
"You always hear about bears breaking into your cars or your cabin, but you just don't think it's going to happen to you," Hernandez said.
"I just saw it just clawing everything, using its teeth to rip everything off my door," she said. "I was just watching it completely annihilate my car."
The bear was apparently able to open one of Hernandez's car doors from the outside in order to hoist itself up and into the vehicle. But the animal could not reopen the door from inside once it swung closed. In the video, Hernandez stands with a group of shocked women outside of their Tahoe accommodation and watched the bear seemingly attempt to chew its way through the car.
"This bear is absolutely destroying the inside of my car right now, oh my gosh," Hernandez said in the video.
Police eventually arrived at the scene, and an officer pulled open one of the doors to Hernandez's car. The bear, which appeared to be relatively small in size, hopped out immediately and ran off. Hernandez left her camera on to survey the damage. Her driver's side door was completely shredded, and, she said, the car smelled "atrocious."
"She's just cleaning out the poop in my car – the bear poop," Hernandez said, while filming another woman holding plastic bags and helping clean the backseat. "Job well done."
Alejandra told CBS Sacramento that she was still able to drive her car after the bear incident. Citing statistics from a wildlife rescue organization called the Bear League, the news station reported that between 15-25 cases of bears opening car doors around Lake Tahoe happened each day, although in most of them, the car doors remain open so the animals can exit.
Black bears are the only species of bear found in California, with wildlife officials estimating between 25,000 and 35,000 live throughout the state. The Tahoe basin is regarded as California's "bear capital" because it is home to a dense population of these animals, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which reported earlier this year that about 300 black bears are found in the area. They are typically most active between March and November, after they emerge from their dens and before they return to hibernation. The bear confrontation filmed by Hernandez happened on May 28, CBS affiliate KLAS reported.
In general, black bear attacks on humans are "extremely rare," according to the U.S. Forest Service. But there are still a number of precautions that officials urge anyone living in or visiting bear country to take for their own safety and the safety of the animals.
A safety checklist published by the California Fish and Wildlife Department notes that cars parked outside in bear territory should be proofed, meaning "no food or anything with a fragrance is left in vehicles, car trunks or truck beds, including pet food, birdseed, food, beverages, scented air fresheners and trash." The checklist also advises car owners to keep their windows "fully closed and doors locked," and to use an odor-removing spray on the interior.
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