A northwest Connecticut man thought something was afoot when his mother-in-law’s car lights switched on Friday evening while she was in bed.
When he went outside to check, he found a black bear trapped in the cabin.
“It looked like a teenaged kid that passed out in his car after a long night of partying and his mom caught him,” Cody Gillotti told NBC Connecticut, describing the bear as looking “stunned.”
The animal had first rampaged through Gillotti’s truck before it headed to his mother-in-law’s vehicle.
“I think he opened it up and there was no food in my truck,” Gillotti told NBC Connecticut. “There was an empty McDonald’s bag and a couple other things in her car, so I think he kind of just moved things around my seat looking for stuff, couldn’t find anything and then left and went into [my mother-in-law’s] car.”
Gillotti said he thought the scene was “very, very funny” — until the bear started “freaking out” and rocking the car back and forth.
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, or DEEP, responded and opened the door with a rope, eventually evicting the bear with a bean bag round.
Gillotti admitted that after he assessed the damage in his own vehicle, he found that his “daughter may have left a cookie, and that might have been why it was in the truck.”
Both vehicles were badly damaged, and his mother-in-law’s was “completely wrecked”: The bear tore the seats, ripped the interior door panels and even marked its territory, Gillotti told NBC Connecticut.
DEEP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In August, a doorbell camera in Bristol, a suburb of Hartford, recorded a bear snatching an Amazon package off a porch.
Recorded sightings like those are part of a resurgence of black bears in Connecticut. By the 1800s, bears had largely been eradicated from the state, which back then had few forests and many farms.
“Much of Connecticut’s landscape is now forested and is suitable for black bears,” DEEP noted on a fact sheet. It attributes the growing number of sightings to a “healthy and increasing” bear population.
Connecticut recorded over 8,000 bear sightings in 2021 and over 1,500 so far in 2022, DEEP’s records show.
To reduce the presence of bears near homes, the department recommends removing things that are attractive to bears: birdseed, meats and fruits in the open in compost and easily accessible trash cans full of food scraps.