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A black bear with his paw on a rearview mirror.

Black Bear Steals Bagged Lunch from Truck in Gatlinburg [Video Included!]

If you need a reminder of why you should always lock your car doors, we have just the video! Last week, a construction site in Gatlinburg was visited by a hungry black bear who decided to help himself to whatever goodies he could find inside one of the crew member’s trucks. The entire incident was captured on video and has since become a viral sensation on the internet.

He Broke in with his “Bear Hands”

On September 24, 2018, Steve Hogarth was working a job on Topside Road in Gatlinburg, when he spotted a black bear near the construction site. Steve’s wife loves it when he sends her videos of bears that he sees at work, so he took out his cell phone and started filming the critter in question.

Steve told WATE, “I noticed a bear sitting down. And he looked cute, so I started videoing that. And when he walked up, I thought he was just going to walk across the road.”

Instead of simply strolling the road, however, the bear walked over to a crew member’s truck with a mission on his mind. Standing on his hind legs, the bear placed his right paw on the handle of the front passenger door and swung it open. Remarkably, the bear had absolutely no trouble opening the truck’s door and seemed to have an instinctive understanding of how to enter a vehicle (or perhaps, prior experience).

Once he had made it inside the truck, the bear rummaged around a bit before leaving with a Sonic bag. According to Steve, the bag was just trash, so the bear missed out on enjoying any of the tater tots or hot dogs that may have been inside. Although this is where the video ends, Steve told WATE that there was actually a bit more to the story:

“But what isn’t on the video, is he [the bear] came back about 10 minutes later. And Matt, the heat and air man, he locked his doors at that point, and that bear came back and tried getting in every door.”

Black Bear Safety Tips

Smoky Mountain black bear walking on the roadWhile this bear break-in video is very entertaining, it also serves as an important reminder to always lock your car doors and roll up the windows when you visit Gatlinburg and the Smokies. Other bear safety tips to keep in mind include:

  • Don’t leave food or garbage in your car, outside of your vacation rental, or in the national park.
  • If you happen to see a bear, always stay at least 150 feet away.
  • In the unlikely event that a bear approaches you, make loud noises and throw non-food objects if necessary.
  • Do not run from a bear; slowly back away while watching the bear.

Seeing Bears in the Wild

The best way to see a bear during your vacation in Gatlinburg is from a safe distance in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For some helpful advice, check out our Guide to Spotting Your Favorite Smoky Mountain Wildlife.