Nfld. & Labrador

Close encounter of the furred kind: Curious bear noses around vehicle

Lisa Baikie kept the doors locked, windows up and her vehicle in drive so she could make a quick getaway.

It seemed gentle and curious, but Lisa Baikie knew the dangers

A curious bear takes a look in Lisa Baikie's windows on the highway between Labrador City and Happy Valley-Goose Bay on July 9. (Submitted by Lisa Baikie)

It's probably the closest Lisa Baikie has been, or ever wanted to be, to a wild animal: a curious juvenile bear looking in her car windows.

She came upon the bear, sitting in the middle of the road, on the 530 kilometre drive from Labrador City to Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Never get out of your vehicle, keep your doors locked and keep her in drive just in case.- Lisa Baikie

"There was a white pickup truck stopped there, so of course I had to pull over and stop, and Mr. Bear decided to just come over and have a look around the car," said Baikie.

The bear circled her car before hopping up to take a closer look.

Baikie grabbed her phone to take a video, which has had more than 4,000 views on Facebook since she posted it on July 9.

"I think he must have smelled either the food in the car or my dog's fur, because as soon as I stopped he turned around and looked at the car … and he popped up in the window and I was like, 'Oh my gosh!'" Baikie said.

Lisa Baikie thinks the bear could smell her food and her dogs through the closed door and windows of her vehicle. (Submitted by Lisa Baikie)

"Then of course I hauled out my phone because I wanted to take a video to show my teenagers that were up here in Lab City. I don't think they'd believe me without the video."

Baikie left the car in drive, with the doors locked and windows rolled all the way up, while the bear sniffed around for about 10 minutes.

A Labrador woman came upon a bear sitting in the middle of the road, which then came up for a sniff of her car 0:34

But she wasn't about to open a window or door and invite the bear in.

"He was just curious. So when he sat back down then I slowly eased away so I could make sure I could get away and he just sat on the road and I looked in the rearview mirror and he was just sat in the road watching me drive away."

'Used to being around people'

It's the closest encounter with a bear she's likely ever had, although she used to go bear-watching at the dump where she grew up in Churchill Falls.

Being familiar with wildlife — one time a wolf ran alongside her vehicle on the highway for three minutes — Baikie knew not to assume that a seemingly gentle bear was actually gentle.

Baikie believes the bear has been fed by humans a few times, given its curiosity and apparent ease around humans and vehicles.

Lisa Baikie knew to keep her doors locked and her windows up when the bear came up close to take a peek inside her car. (Submitted by Lisa Baikie)

"He just seemed very gentle, just curious … I think he was used to being around people and vehicles without feeling threatened," she told CBC's Labrador Morning.

"Unfortunately that happens with a lot of animals around here between camps and stuff like that … and it is sad to see because you always wonder what's gonna happen to them. Especially if they hang around the road like that."

What I would recommend is, don't bother them.- Lisa Baikie

The best advice for anyone who encounters a wild animal is, always, not to feed them and keep your distance, and just because something looks friendly and docile doesn't make it so.

"What I would recommend is, don't bother them. And don't — like I don't honk the horn or anything at them, I just try to be as less invasive as I can around them because you never know," said Baikie.

"This one was very docile, but you don't know if you come across an animal that's sick or anything. Never get out of your vehicle, keep your doors locked and keep her in drive just in case they do try to — because they can break windows."

With files from Bailey White