'Bear-proof' shed traps hungry bruin

Posted: Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Friday was garbage day at the Fagerstrom's Lemon Creek home. It also was the day an uninvited guest decided to visit their supposedly bear-proof garbage shed.

At about 9 a.m., Kathy Fagerstrom sent her 7-year-old son Torsten to take trash to the shed. He wasn't able to open the door and his mother sent his 17-year-old brother Christopher outside to try.

"He hears a growl and thinks it might be a porcupine. Then we hear a huff. I called my husband," she said.

It didn't take long to figure out a black bear had entered through the door of the shed, knocked garbage or stored wood in front of the door and couldn't get out.

"I came home, pushed on the door and couldn't push the door open. I banged on the side of the wall and there was all kinds of commotion in there," Phil Fagerstrom said.

The family's garbage shed is a former bus stop built of heavy-duty wood paneling on top of a concrete slab. The fireproof metal door was shut, but wasn't locked, not that it would have mattered anyway, Phil Fagerstrom said. The bear got inside by breaking the door jam, he said.

"I called Fish and Game. I was going to put a timber in the back of the truck and bash in the door. But it's a $300 door," he said.

After finding out it might take a while for Department of Fish and Game officials to arrive, Fagerstrom got out a chain saw.

"I cut a square hole out of one of the panels, then run like the dickens and out comes that bear," he said.

A video shows the bear gingerly climbing out of the shed and scampering away safely. Family members aren't sure exactly when the bear entered the shed, but estimate it spent several hours inside, Phil Fagerstrom said. He helped chase a bear out of his tenant's car port at 3:30 that morning, he said.

The Fagerstrom home is at the corner of Davis Avenue, Churchill Way and Lemon Creek Road, about 50 feet from Lemon Creek.

"It just blew me away. There's a creek full of fish and this bear is choosing to climb in a shed and eat my garbage," Kathy Fagerstrom said.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.

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