Wandering brown bear, residents of Anchorage surprise each other

Posted: Wednesday, August 08, 2001

ANCHORAGE - A young grizzly bear has been seen careering around some Anchorage neighborhoods, popping up on streets and city parks.

Police received dozens of calls Sunday from residents about the bear, who hasn't been seen since.

Todd LaPorte, a financial adviser who lives in a basement apartment near Westchester Lagoon, said he was talking on the phone inches from a picture window when he heard a crash over his right shoulder.

"Out of nowhere something comes into the side of the building, hits part of the window frame of the concrete foundation and rolls upward against the window," LaPorte said Tuesday. "If it crashed through the glass it would have come right into my lap."

Only when the bear stood back and swiped at the window, and LaPorte saw the foot pad and claws against the glass, did he realize what it was.

"It was six inches from the window, looking at it in shock. It took that entire time for me to realize it was a bear," he said.

He yelled into the phone, "I'm being attacked by a bear!" he said. He jumped up, tumbled over another chair and fell on the floor.

"I look up and the bear is charging again," he said.

The bear smashed again into the heavy frame and the concrete wall beneath the windows, and deflected upward. It tried to bite the glass and slobbered on it, he said.

LaPorte got up and ran to a closet where he keeps his gun. He tore the sliding door off its runners, cursing himself because the gun case was locked. He ripped it open.

The bear, meanwhile, dropped to all fours, paused and then bolted for the trees, LaPorte said. LaPorte walked outside and found the 5-foot fence down.

"He tore it like tissue paper," he said.

Rick Sinnott, a biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game, said the bear probably ran toward the window at an angle and saw only the reflection of the trees. After hitting the window, it may have thought it was in a fight with another bear.

The bear likely was the same one that frightened Sven Ole Jordan and Mike Mark Anthony when they encountered it along the Chester Creek greenbelt.

Jordan said he was running when he heard a crashing in the trees. He thought it was a moose and stopped. About 20 yards behind him, a bear came charging on to the bike path.

The bear faced away from him, then turned, saw Jordan and "comes full tilt at me," he said. "I was slightly scared, then full-blown terror."

The bear ran up to him and skidded again, stopping at his feet. It then backed up. Jordan also backed up and got behind a tree. They looked at each other, "doing the peek-a-boo thing," he said.

"For some strange reason, it turned, took off and ran back into the woods just as fast full-tilt as it came at me," Jordan said. "It never growled, never took a swipe. It could easily have killed me."

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