Watch a Black Bear Mama Load Four Cubs Into a Minivan, the Obvious Choice

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Written by Kirstin Harrington

Updated: November 15, 2023

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black bear
© Wild Art/

Key Points:

  • Bears may enter vehicles and homes in search of food and out of curiosity.
  • A bear’s sense of smell is 2,100 times stronger than a human’s!
  • One day in the Adirondack Mountains, a mama bear walks into a driveway, curiously opens a family’s van door, and walks inside. She then invites her cubs in, too. The incident was caught on camera. No humans were harmed.

Upstate New York is home to some of the country’s most breathtaking scenery. With towering forests, flowing streams, and the Adirondack Mountains, it’s a jaw-dropping getaway anyone would be lucky to call home. 

One family that resides in the area has cameras placed throughout their property for an extra layer of security. A camera pointing at their driveway gave them an inside look at how curious the local wild animals can be. 

During a seemingly normal afternoon, a mother black bear strolls up the family’s driveway and is instantly intrigued by a minivan. Without hesitation, the mama bear opens the side door and takes a look around. 

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Black Bear Population by State

Bears getting into vehicles is more common than you may realize, driven by their curiosity.

©jo Crebbin/

Mother bears are tender, caring, dedicated, strict, perceptive, and watchful with their cubs. Bears exhibit human-like emotions like empathy, fear, joy, playfulness, social behavior, and even altruism. They are all distinct individuals with separate characteristics. 

Both younger and older bears play socially and have ritualistic ways of assessing the friendliness of new people. Bears regularly differentiate between aggressive and non-aggressive human behavior.

Thankfully, no humans were outside for this family of bears to be frightened by. As soon as the mother black bear assessed the situation, she gathered her cubs and loaded them right into the van, as if they were on their way to soccer practice! 

Mother bear gently nibbles at her cub as the lie on the grass

Mother bears are tender and loving with their cubs and very protective of them.

©Susan Kehoe/

Bears getting into vehicles is more common than you may realize. There are a plethora of videos online of the four-legged forest reddies finding their way around all types of vehicles. They are endlessly curious and just want to see what the giant hunk of metal is all about.

Is It Normal Behavior for a Bear to Be Attracted to a Vehicle?

One of the main reasons a bear may enter your vehicle is because they smell food. The best sense of smell among all animals on earth is supposedly reserved for bears. For instance, the average dog has a 100-fold greater sense of smell than a human. That of a bloodhound is 300 times superior. 

A bear’s sense of smell is 2,100 times more powerful than a human’s and seven times more powerful than a bloodhound’s. Chances are, if you have a leftover bag of fries or yesterday’s lunch left behind in a car, a bear will be attracted to it and do whatever it can to get its paws on a tasty morsel. 

In order to discover food, find mates, monitor their children, and escape danger, particularly between rival individuals, bears’ great sense of smell evolved. Bears, with the exception of mothers, are solitary creatures who must travel great distances in search of sufficient food to support themselves. 

A bear can smell animal carcasses upwind and 20 miles distant because of its keen sense of smell. Make sure you take all the food out of your vehicle unless you want unwelcome visitors, no matter how cute they appear on video!

NJ Black Bear by Garbage Cans

In addition to entering cars and homes, bears will go through trash cans if accessible in search of food.


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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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