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Car's alternative fuel said to attract bear

WINSTED, Conn. -- A Winsted man believes the sweet smell of the vegetable oil he uses to fuel his car attracted the bear that damaged the vehicle white trying to get at the biodiesel.

Larry Joy, a 53-year-old electrician, said the bear shattered a window on his 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit, tipped the plastic fuel tank on its side, and gnawed on car hoses about two weeks ago. He said the evidence included muddy paw prints around the broken window and a pool of cooking oil on the rear floorboards.

''I knew what it was after," Joy told The Sunday Republican of Waterbury. ''I think it's cool that bears do whatever they want."

Joy uses a combination of diesel and vegetable oil left over from restaurant fry vats to power his car. He says it gets 44 miles per gallon.

The car needs to be started using regular diesel, because vegetable oil is too thick for the engine to handle. When a gauge indicates the engine coolant is at 90 degrees, it is warm enough to thin the biodiesel, and Joy can flip a switch to change fuel tanks.

When the coolant hits about 150 degrees, Joy said, there is a sweet smell.

''My neighbor said it smells like cheeseburgers," he said.

The state Department of Environmental Protection told Joy he should discourage the bear from returning by using bad-tasting bait. The agency recommended the placement of a balloon filled with water and ammonia and covered in cooking oil on his car.

Joy said he had no plans to get rid of the Volkswagen. ''I love this car," he said.

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