Bear opens garage door, saunters into family kitchen

Bruin exits through living-room window

Posted: Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Geri Anderson was sitting in the computer room in the back of her Sunset Street home when she heard a noise in her kitchen just after 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

She went to the kitchen to investigate and found a black bear, eating garbage and licking the plates from her family's rib dinner, a few hours before. The bear turned around and snorted at her.

"All the bones were in the kitchen garbage, and he had it spread out all over the floor," Geri said. "He had a pretty good mess going by that time."

"I turned around and I didn't make a sound or anything," she said.

The bear entered the house through the Andersons' connecting garage, Geri said.

"The switch on the garage door was turned off so there was no power in the door," she said. "He was able to lift the garage door up and come in, and the garage door went down behind him."

Geri came out, but didn't see the bear, which was already in the garage. She went back, heard another noise and came out again.

She found the bear this time - about two feet away, she said.

As Geri walked quickly back to the bedroom, the bear followed her eight feet down the hallway.

"I felt him," Geri said. "I just turned around and started walking away really fast, and I got down the hallway, opened the door and closed it and said, 'Bob, there's a bear in the house.' I just fell apart, I was so scared."

Bob, her husband, jumped out of bed and went to the door. He opened it and saw the bear staring back at him.

"I've been in Alaska a long time," said Bob, a 46-year resident. "I've seen a lot of bears, and I lived in Yakutat for 18 years and I've hunted and been in different situations. My wife, she's never had that."

"I closed the door, and I put my weight against it, and I could feel the door being pushed," he said. "It was a big black bear. When he turned, his rump went up against the door."

The bear knocked off a small decorative shelf at the end of the hall, just outside the door.

"I think he saw himself in the mirror and took a swat at himself," Bob said. "But he wasn't aggressive. He had a lot of guts to walk into a house through the garage door."

Geri called 911 and said she got through to the police at 9:51 p.m.

"They said, 'Where's the bear?'" Geri said. "We said, 'He's right outside the door.'"

Three officers arrived in the Andersons' front lawn just before 10 p.m. and continued to speak to Geri on the phone. That's when, according to the police report, the bear stood up on its hind legs, put both front paws on the glass, broke through the window and escaped into the woods.

"I was talking to them on the phone in the bathroom and Bob was still holding the door," Geri said. "They said, 'The bear leapt through your living room window.'"

The bear crashed through the glass, ripping down the blinds, clawing the radiator and almost shattering a framed, glass decoration of a raven that hangs in front of the window.

The Andersons' landlord estimated the damage at $5,000 and will pick up the bill, Bob said.

The Andersons have lived at their Sunset Street home for 10 years. They've seen bears sniffing around their house and garage before, and once took a picture of a baby bear crawling on their deck.

"That was frightening, but not like this," Geri said.

"I lock my doors, I lock my car, I shut the garage door and it automatically locks, but that one night, a bear comes along, opens the door and I have a bear in my kitchen," she said. "I haven't slept at all."

She said she didn't want the police to leave. Instead, the Andersons' adult daughter, Keri, spent the night.

"I left work and came over when she called, because she's my mom," Keri said. "I told her, 'You're using me as a decoy.'"

"I haven't slept at all," Geri said. "I'm still traumatized. As soon as it gets dark, I'm gonna start freaking out."

• Juneau Empire reporter Tony Carroll contributed to this report.

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