If you ever thought about leaving food in your car while camping, consider this your warning.
When a West Vancouver-resident left some food in his car Saturday night, he woke the next morning to find it gone—along with part of his car door. When the man discovered his Lexus destroyed, he assumed someone had broken into the vehicle, and he called the police. But when they arrived at his home and inspected the car, they knew it was the work of a hungry bear.
It’s something members of the West Vancouver Police Department say they’ve seen happen in that neighbourhood before. The address they were called to is located in the British Properties, near Taylor Way and the Trans Canada Highway, and backs on to the North Shore Mountains.
In photos released by the police department, you can see that one of the rear passenger doors is ripped back, its frame is bent, the side airbags are trashed, a window is smashed, and the seats are shredded.
If that wasn’t enough to tip them off, they found bear fur and claw marks throughout the vehicle as well.
“It’s probably about $10,000 worth in damage,” Cpl. Trevor Griffiths told CBC News.
If it seems harmless to leave a cooler of food temporarily tucked behind the seat, don’t forget that bears have a very strong sense of smell. Even food wrappers of items you’ve already eaten can draw bears.
“[They’re] very, very powerful animals and, especially when they are hungry and motivated for a meal, a car window, door, that sort of thing, is really not much of an obstacle for a bear,” Const. Jeff Palmer told The Canadian Press.
But it’s not just the car you have to worry about.
“Once a location becomes identified to the bear as a food source, they will return, the bear’s fear of human contact is reduced, and risks posed to humans by the bear increase,” the West Vancouver Police Department wrote in a news release.
That’s why they, along with the West Vancouver Bylaw Services, the BC Conservation Officer Service, and North Shore Black Bear Society, are urging residents to learn and practice the basics of bear safety.
Along with removing any food or garbage from your car, they’re also advising people to keep all garbage in a secure, odour-free enclosure until the morning of pick-up, keep barbecues clean, store pet food inside, remove all bird feeders until winter, pick fruit from backyard trees as soon as its ripe, and only add raw fruits and vegetables and yard trimmings to compost.
Some of these measures might sound drastic, but not when you consider what a bear can do to a luxury car like a Lexus.