GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WKRN) — Haley Gray and her husband got the surprise of their lives while on vacation in Gatlinburg last Friday. At first, they thought someone had broken into their vehicle. The culprits? A mother bear and her three cubs.

Gray told us, “There was probably a little over a thousand pounds worth of bears in our car. Just playing around, trying to look for food.’ 

This incident isn’t a case of tourists who don’t know any better and leave food that may attract bears in their car. Haley and her husband are no strangers to the Smokies having visited multiple times. They are well aware of what measures are needed to prevent issues with bears and even had their vehicle, car seats, and all, detailed before their vacation to remove any traces of food.

Gray and her husband tried to scare the bears away by yelling and setting off the car alarm. They also called the police for help. After 45 minutes, the mother bear and her cubs strolled away.

So why did did this bear break into a locked vehicle? The police had an answer for Gray.

“When the police officer got there, he just kinda chuckled. And he said since the coronavirus and everything started opening back up, they’ve been used to seeing no people, so they’ve kind of had free reign around here, and now we get one of these calls daily, sometimes more than once a day.”

For those in Middle Tennessee who are considering a trip to The Great Smoky Mountains for Memorial Day, you might see a few more bears than you are used to while there.