Bipedal bear opens car door

I’m on the verge of declaring bears to be Honorary Cats™, joining the pantheon with foxes and owls. Bears are furry, smart, and canny, as shown by this black bear who, looking for all the world like a man in a furry suit, opens the back door of a car:

Readers’ bear experiences should be put in the comments below.

h/t: Michael ~


  1. Randy Schenck
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I would think you must include squirrels.

    • Posted January 30, 2015 at 2:36 am | Permalink

      Squirrels are so awesome they don’t need any honoraria.

  2. Draken
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Nope, Chuck Testa.

    (…are your famous last thoughts before being snacked)

    • bacopa
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      I was just gonna link that video.

      I don’t have any bear stories, but my work often takes me to the University of Houston Clear Lake campus late at night. Plenty of gator and coyote stories.

    • Posted January 30, 2015 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      I’d like to see Chuck get stuffed.

  3. Jeff Rankin
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Not a super-exciting story, but:

    A friend of mine lives in a little mountain town in CO called Nederland. One morning he went out to his garage and found a bear going through one of the recycling bins – turns out one of his kids (my friend’s, not the bear’s) forgot to close the garage door the previous night. My friend banged some pots together and the bear took off.

    Following this incident, the next few mornings started with my friend having to bang pots to scare off the same bear, who was waiting next to the closed garage door. Eventually Mr. Bear got the message and didn’t appear again.

    • nightglare
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      I’m in the UK, which is sadly sans bears for the last few hundred years, and I think it would be pretty exciting to find a bear rifling through my bins!

      • Posted January 30, 2015 at 2:26 am | Permalink

        We see the occasional bobcat hereabouts, but if I came across a bear in my garage I would assume there was a Russian circus visiting town and having a wayward cast member.

  4. Posted January 29, 2015 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    When I was in high school, my brother came home after dark and was coming up our side entrance (which was pitch black) and his hand brushed against something furry. He figured it was a bear, and ran around to the front of the house and came in the front door. The next day, I got to clean up the big pile of poo that was left behind. My brother was scared, but he literally scared the shit out of the bear!

  5. Jeff Rankin
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Not a bear story, but a coyote story:

    East of where I live there are miles and miles of rolling trails where I can run until my heart’s content.

    One winter’s night was perfect for trail running — a few inches of snow on the trails and a full moon so I almost didn’t need a head-lamp. Temperature perfect for a winter run in the high 20s (F) and no wind.

    I started about 6:30P and ran about 4 miles — gradually heading to the SE to the middle of nowhere. Typical of an evening I heard many coyotes yipping and howling in the distance — probably miles away.

    It was an “out and back” run, so I turned around at mile 4 to head for home along the same route. I had just finished running up one of the bigger hills and was taking it easy when a coyote, unseen but very close by, let out a long, loud, lonely howl.

    So, I know it’s rare that western coyotes post a threat to humans, but at that moment — in the middle of nowhere (no houses, no people, no roads), in the dark, I suddenly felt like I was in a Jack London story and ran as fast as I could on the snow for the next mile or so, all the while imagining the news headline “Local Runner Ravaged by Coyote Pack”.

    I made it back safely and I think a set a record time for the last 4 miles.

  6. Diane G.
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    What a crazy video! I’m accustomed to seeing pictures of bipedal bear, but have trouble imagining how one could use its front paw to work a door latch!

  7. Posted January 29, 2015 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Are you SURE that’s not a guy in a bear suit?

  8. Posted January 29, 2015 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    🙂 That reminds me of and advert on UK TV. For Aldi (a kind of cheap ?German? supermarket. They generally have a jokey line which says “I like this one (expensive)…and I like this one (cheap Aldi alternative). nyway, there is the new one which has a bear saying “I like this toilet paper (expensive) and I like this toilet paper (cheap). And then he says “The answer to you question is yes. Where else would I do it?” And then he wanders off, saying “Jeez, you people”. Well, it made I larf 🙂

  9. Dan Fromm
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Bears honorary cats? What next? Dogs honorary cats?

    I ask because I thought that ursids and canids are sister groups.

    • Kevin Anthoney
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 4:36 am | Permalink

      That doesn’t stop foxes being Honorary Cats.

  10. Posted January 29, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    ‘Twas 1998, Alaska, at home and a black bear (Ursus americanus) fumbled (as only they can) around my trash containment area. Not having the time to wait for his or her casual departure (I had places to be) I let loose with pepper spray from the side window into the bear’s general direction. For those who don’t know, pepper spray canisters are quite loud when discharged. As a result, the bruin, startled by the sound alone, sped off being untouched by the spray. No harm, no foul.

    The next morning I walked down the hill with trash cans in tow for pick up. It was very early, beautiful, quiet and, well…nature unexpectedly called. With privacy surrounding me I, ahem, watered the grass or actually, I should say the salmon berry bushes (Rubus spectabilis). I’m not much of a birder but I also distinctly remember there being many golden eye ducks (Bucephala clangula americana) on the water because I heard their unmistakeable whistling as they flew out of sight somewhere low along the shore.

    As I walked back up the driveway a gradual, confusing sensation overtook me. In short order this feeling became a house on fire in my pants! Having changed into running mode, I realized that the trash cans I just set out evidently became microscopically coated in pepper spray molecules the prior day when I was chasing off the bear. I say microscopically but it probably wouldn’t have mattered if the lids were as pepper-red as a barn door; I’m colorblind. Suffice to say, there was no lasting damage to me or my integrity as I’ve had the pleasure to tell this story for many years now.

    Thanks for letting me share this memory.


    • Posted January 30, 2015 at 2:30 am | Permalink

      Kodak Karma.

      • Posted January 30, 2015 at 2:31 am | Permalink

        Kodiak not Kodak, stupid AutoCorrect!

        • Mary Sheumaker
          Posted January 31, 2015 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

          But it could have been a Kodak Moment.

          • Posted January 31, 2015 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

            You’re right! In fact it was – a Kodiak Kodak Moment. Cute.

  11. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    I suspect that a lot of Big Foot sightings are really bears.

    • Doug
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      Maybe a lot of bear sightings are actually Big Foots (Big Feet?)

    • Jeff Lewis
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      I’ve actually got a second hand bigfoot story, but it’s from a guy I trust. He was riding with a group of friends on a drive through some woods somewhere up in Oregon when a sasquatch ran across the road right in front of them – it definitely wasn’t a bear. So, they slammed on the breaks, grabbed the rifle off the driver’s gun rack, and jumped out of the truck to go looking for it. Almost as soon as they got out of the truck, a group of young guys came running up to them shouting, ‘Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot! That’s just our friend in a big foot costume. We come up here every once in a while just to prank people.’

  12. daveyc
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    I wonder, can anybody think of another group of mammals that, like cats and bears, are in the order Carnivora and are also furry, smart and canny? 😉

    • Posted January 30, 2015 at 2:35 am | Permalink

      I think I know where you are headed with this one, however Procyon lotor are the cute little bandits that spring to my mind.

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 4:10 am | Permalink

        Yes – cute little bandits is a good description! Very entertaining animals.

    • Dan Fromm
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      To generalize a little what’s already been mentioned, procyonids. But not raccoons, which are obnoxious nasty disgusting creatures whose only redeeming feature is cuteness.

      There are, though, two procyonids that are already honorary cats. Bassariscus astutus the Ringtailed or Miner’s Cat and B. sumichrasti the Cacomistle. It seems that Cacomistle comes from Nahuatl and means half mountain lion.

  13. Susan Riddell
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    I’m in Coquitlam – a suburb of Vancouver, BC. We have a chest freezer in our separate garage. When our kitchen freezer was being repaired, I bagged up its contents and put them in the garage freezer.
    But strangely, I noticed a couple bags missing the next day. We couldn’t figure out where they were. We didn’t think bear because there was no damage or debris. Maybe a human thief.
    The next day, more bags were gone. A real mystery. The next day, the side door to the garage was forced and frozen apple pies we made the previous summer and bags of frozen blueberries were gone. We decided to call Animal Control. But the bear expert guy said it wasn’t a bear because a bear would gorge on the entire contents and would leave a mess.
    So we tried added a heavy slide bolt to the side door. That night we caught the culprit in the act. A large black bear was breaking apart the solid cedar garage door to get at the freezer. We had pushed the freezer up against the door so even though he ripped a big hole, he couldn’t move the freezer to get in.
    The Animal Control guy came back with a baited trap. He also tracked down the bear’s picnic sight. It turns out this bear was still nervous around humans and afraid to be in a human structure. So he stole those easy to carry bags of groceries to another location to eat in peace. That’s why we couldn’t find his mess.
    Lucky for him he was still scared. They were able to catch and release him. A could years previous, we had a female with 2 yearling Cubs caught at our place. They were very comfortable around humans and were killed.
    Anyway, apple pie and bags of berries. It must have been bear heaven!

    • Posted January 30, 2015 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      So sad about the mother with the 2 yearling cubs. 😦

    • Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Oh, what a lucky bear!!
      My son’s next door neighbors in Whistler had a bear come several times ( they were less thsn pristine at cleaning up their BBQ) and Animal Control finally had to put it down. It was way too people “friendly.”

  14. Joe
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    About 20 years ago, I volunteered in a bear research project in North Carolina. Professor Roger Powell, NCState, and his grad students were at it for 25 years or more. There were many aspects to the project; for example, in the winter, they crawled into the dens to put ear-tags on the youngsters. But the heart of the project was to put radio collars on the bears.Roger bought a used telemetry truck from a TV station (they use the antenna projecting up through the cab to send video from remote locations).
    Two researchers would drive up to the Blue Ridge Parkway for the midnight shift. The eight am shift is skipped; then another at 4pm. The following midnight shift is skipped, for the 8 am shift. So the bears movements are monitored around the clock. Each bear had its own frequency. Two or three lines of sight were established, so the bear’s position could be plotted on a topo map.

    During the five weeks I was there, we had two to seven persons. Our main job was to go up on the BRP seven days a week, jump out and hike our own individual trap line. We used leg-hold traps, with a triggered spring. To prevent the bear cutting its leg, a stiff coiled spring was in the line; the bear doing work on this spring could not hurt itself. If we had a bear in one of our traps, we went back up to the BRP rendevous point and the whole group would go in to handle the bear. Most days, we caught none; one day we caught three, 12-15 altogether. It was quite a battle of wits, usually won by the bear. We nailed smelly leaky cans of sardines to the tree the trap was attached to, disguised the loop and trigger mechanism, and built a V shaped “cubby” to guide the bear in to the trap. Sometimes our traps were unvisited. More often, the bait was taken; the trap was sometimes sprung, but no bear.

    It was a magical five weeks. The bears were just beautiful creatures. And they smell really great. Vanessa would always bury her nose in the bear’s fur. We caught one big male, 300 lbs plus, one 210 pound male teenager, one lactating mom of 140 pounds; all the rest were skinny scruffy yearlings.

    During one of the midnight telemetry runs, a good sized bear was seen running across the road. That was the only bear seen, outside of our traps.

    The method of anesthetizing the bear was incredibly clever, basicly a blow gun. One of my jobs was to use a vernier caliper to measure teat size or baculum length. Another of my jobs was to deliver the blood samples to the human hospital in Ashville.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 3:34 am | Permalink

      What an amazing experience! Thanks for all the details!

    • Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      What do the bears smell like?

    • Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      Fascinating story, Joe. I did have to look up baculum:-). Good thing the bears were anesthetized. How interesting that they smelled really good! The BRP is so beautiful, ( but frustrating to drive in the winter with many unannounced closures).

  15. Posted January 30, 2015 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    Soon your list of honorary cats will grow to include every animal except d*ogs! Hehe.

  16. Posted January 30, 2015 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    Oops I still put the “o” in!

  17. Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:41 am | Permalink


    I would be more impressed if it had closed the doors after and maybe drove off after.

    I have very high standards for being inducted into honorary cathood.

  18. chris moffatt
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Sleeping in a tent in the Adirondack Wilderness one night, a good few years ago, I was woken by a sound outside. Then a twig snapped, then more sounds, then a snuffling sound right by my head. Definitely a bear. Fortunately the bear decided to devote its full attention to my pack hanging in a tree. I could hear it growling gently to itself and making noises as it tried to claw the pack down. Suddenly new sound came on either side of the tent; little gentle mewings. Oh, oh a mother bear with cubs. I heard her growl at the cubs to “get over here”. They didn’t. Then I heard the bear padding back to the tent. It stopped on the near side and I heard a whomp sort of noise immediately followed by a yelp. Then she went round the other side and repeated the performance – another yelp. Then they all went back to my pack. Mother bear tried to get that pack for about twenty minutes I think, by which time my heart rate was something like normal again, before she and the cubs moved off. It took me some time to get back to sleep. Next morning I saw them on the edge of a lake about two hundred yards from my campsite. The mother looked at me but fortunately decided to head at a leisurely pace into the bush rather than renew her efforts to get the pack, now on my back, which she could have had for the asking.

    • Posted January 30, 2015 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      That must have been terrifying.

      • chris moffatt
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        sure got my heart rate up I can tell you.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Great story!

  19. Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    I half-expected Mr. Bear to shut the car door.

  20. longsmith
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Family lore has it that I tried to pet a yearling cub on Mt. Katahdin when I was about 2.
    Another time while camping in remote Township 25 in Downeast Maine, our tent was between a mama bear and her cubs. She charged our tent a few times but eventually went away. My poor young parents were quite frightened.

  21. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted January 31, 2015 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    I mis-read the email as saying

    Bipedal bear opens cat door

    Which had me very puzzled.
    Bear stories : not mine, but Mr Downie (not “Professor”, or “Doctor”, but still one of the department’s most respected lecturers. Even if he did terrify a lot of Freshers before they discovered what a great guy he was. Still is, I hope – I heard he was still active 6 years ago.) was leading a field trip to northern Greenland back in the 1970s. Comes lunch time, and people sit down for scram. Someone has their binoculars out and is observing out onto the sea ice where they spot a polar bear a couple of miles off, waiting by a seal hole. Pass the binos to someone else, “Anyone got a long-lens camera? Nope.” Someone opens a flask of hot Oxo (thin beefstock soup), pass the binos one way and the flask and cups the other way.
    From a range of a couple of miles, the bear caught the smell of beef Oxo. Head up – nose sniffing. cast around to get a bead on the smell and start tracking it.
    According to Mr Downie, it is a most uncomfortable feeling to see the thick end of a ton of very sentient carnivore looking at you as “food”.
    Fortunately – for the bear – it had learned about gunfire and heeded warning shots. Otherwise s/he’d have had to wrestle George, and I wouldn’t have given the bear better than even money.

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