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Residents in bear country in the United States have been urged to keep their doors and windows locked after it emerged that one of the animals had rummaged through at least eight cars – after managing to open their doors.
The incident happened in Colorado, with pictures posted on Twitter showing the vehicles in a car park with their doors hanging wide open.
Officials warn that bears don’t necessarily target only those cars that they know have food in them. Instead, they will often go from car to car, trying each door and then rifling through the inside of each one.
It’s thought that all the cars targeted on this occasion were unlocked, which has prompted the advice from the authorities about using a key.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department tweeted: "In the town of Estes Park, Wildlife Officer Rylands observed 8 vehicles overnight that a bear got into. ALL 8 vehicles were UNLOCKED. While not all of the vehicles had food or attractants, some bears go from car to car just to see if they’re unlocked, then hope to find food."
Some of the snaps uploaded to Twitter showed what looked like personal possessions from the cars strewn around on the ground and mud on the car seats – further evidence that it was a bear that was the intruder.
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And there was a warning that it’s not just car doors that the beasts can open – some of them are also a dab hand at opening unlocked doors at people’s homes, too.
In a second tweet, the authorities said: "Make it a routine to lock ALL your windows and doors for both your vehicle and home. This is for your safety and for the lives of these amazing and resourceful creatures."
Bears are a common sight across large parts of North America. Although they are omnivores, attacks by bears are usually "defensive attacks" – in other words, when they feel threatened – and they are naturally shy of people.
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But with a growing threat to their natural habitats, animal watchers have warned that the animals feel more need to venture into populated areas to find food, raising the likelihood of more encounters between humans and bears.
The bear behind the Colorado incident wasn’t found.
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