A black bear died after getting stuck inside a car, likely in pursuit of food, amid sweltering heat that exceeded 95 degrees in Tennessee this week, officials said.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said in a news release the bear entered a parked car at a Sevierville rental cabin Wednesday.
The car’s owner left the cabin in a different vehicle around 10 a.m. When they returned just before 7 p.m., they found the bear dead inside, the release said.
According to wildlife officials, it appears the bear got inside the car using its teeth or paws to open the unlocked door and got trapped after the door shut behind it.
Once inside, the bear likely died in the heat as outdoor temperatures surged past 95 degrees, meaning the temperature inside the car could have “possibly reached over 140 degrees,” officials said.
The bear could have been lured into the car by the smell of food.
“Notice the empty soda can and food package on the floorboard," the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said, sharing a photo of inside the car. "Bears have noses 7 times better than a bloodhound and can smell even the faintest odor of food inside a vehicle."
Tennessee wildlife officials are warning outdoor venturers and campers to lock their car doors, roll up their windows and avoid leaving food or anything that smells like food inside, as even empty food containers, candy wrappers or air fresheners can attract bears.
Sevierville is located about 23 miles north of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where a 350-pound black bear was euthanized last week after it ripped into a tent and injured a 3-year-old girl and her mother, park officials said.
A family of a five was sleeping in a tent with their dog at Elkmont Campground on June 12, when the bear burst in and scratched the mother and child on their heads.
The father was able to scare off the animal.
Officials said the animal “exhibited extreme food-conditioned behavior and lack of fear of humans” and had “boldly” entered the trap. It was euthanized June 13 because it posed a “risk to human safety.”
Marlene Lenthang is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.