Starr Hill, at the base of Mt. Roberts in downtown Juneau, has coexisted with bears for one hundred years. Since the first houses were built in 1903, the neighborhood has had quite a history with bears, and this summer has been no different with a bear falling through a skylight before a birthday party as well as the usual garbage perusing. Days after the birthday bear crashed the party, a male bear satisfied his honey craving in a beehive—though he had to break through floorboards first.
On Wednesday, June 26, a male bear with an Alaska Department of Fish and Game tag #151 wandered down 5th Street to Kennedy Street. There, the bear proceeded to walk up the stairs to the home of Janet and Donald Kussart, and pull apart the floorboards on the side of the house.
The bear proceeded to claw away at the siding as bees buzzed around his face, sticking his nose and mouth into the space in the wood. He appeared to eat the insulation as he dug his mouth into the cotton candy-like material.
Ira Winograd, a resident of the home next door, later noted, “He must have smelled the beehive that wasn’t visible under the porch, and started tearing up the porch to go after the bees.”
Satisfied with his honey meal, the bear ambled along the walkway to the end of Kennedy Street and through the sheltered path. To assess the damage, Winograd and I walked over to the beehive’s remnants, being cautious of the bear’s whereabouts. Moments later, the bear came running towards us, about 15 feet away, at an alarming pace. We quickly stepped into the nearest door, hearts pounding. Luckily, the bear had darted up into the forest, spooked by something he had encountered moments before.
After the encounter, Kussart was not worried. “Actually, we’re used to having bears on Starr Hill.” The rest of the neighborhood agrees.
“Most of us have bear-proof cans, but obviously, they like honey,” she said with a chuckle.