Too Close For Comfort: Grizzly Bear Climbs on Car

July 2, 2015 - Travelers on Beartooth Highway, east of Yellowstone National Park, saw the road live up to its name last week when a grizzly bear decided to climb onto their car while another bear wandered nearby.

Though the passengers survived to share their viral video of a close encounter of the bear kind, Wyoming Game & Fish Department's Dan Thompson finds the animal's bold behavior disconcerting.

"The first bear goes directly to the window and that's not typical behavior of these animals," says Thompson. "It suggests that one of these animals—potentially when they were still with their mother—got some type of a food reward from a vehicle in the past."

Thompson estimates that the bears are two-year-old siblings living independently from their mother. In the video, a young girl inside the car is heard saying, "he smells the beef jerky," which Thompson says is probably right.

"They have an amazing sense of smell," says Thompson. But he points out that it's not normal for bears to walk up to a car based on just a smell, making it more likely that the bears have been food conditioned by people in the past.

Thompson says the people in the video did the right thing by staying inside their vehicle with the windows rolled up all the way. Bears are "very dexterous with their paws and their claws, and if they could get in a gap in the window, they could break it if they wanted to."

Though this encounter ended safely, with a start of the car engine seemingly scaring them off, wildlife officials are now keeping an eye out for further signs of activity from the grizzly duo.