When Davena Turvey packed her garbage in the trunk of her Mercury Mystique to take to the dump the next day, it never occurred to her that it could make her car a target for a break in.
But when she went outside to let out her dog on the morning of October 15, she found her back window smashed and a portion of one rear seat torn out — the work of a bear, who’d found the garbage in her trunk too good to resist.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” says Turvey, who lives in Dry Gulch. “There was garbage everywhere. And I thought, ‘I don’t have any garbage… There were paw marks and scratches and everything, and the bear had brought a bag of garbage from somebody else as well.”
Turvey says there had been signs of bear activity in her area — a neighbour’s fruit tree was damaged — but the possibility of a bear targeting her car “never entered my head.”
“I knew there was a bear about, but I didn’t think he or she would be that desperate,” she adds.
Local conservation officer Lawrence Umsonst says this isn’t the first time a bear has broken into a valley vehicle in search of food. In some cases it’s been garbage in a sports car or under a tarp in the back of a truck. In others, apples left in a vehicle have provided the incentive. Leaving garbage in vehicles overnight isn’t recommended.
“It’s not typical bear behaviour, but whenever there’s an interesting smell — and at this time of the year when they’re fairly hungry — they’ll go to pretty incredible measures in which to get food,” says Umsonst.
“We also believe perhaps the rear window was left open just a smidgen and the bear was able to get its paw in between the open window and the vehicle and pried it out that way.”
Umsonst says he spoke to Turvey’s neighbours about the bear, but didn’t hear of any other problems. A culvert trap was installed on her lawn for several days, but has since been removed. There have been no further sightings.
To report a bear sighting or other wildlife activity, call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.