Clam Gulch man looks for burglar, finds a bear

Surprised teen tosses bottle of lotion at the bruin intruder

Posted: Monday, October 15, 2007

KENAI - A Clam Gulch man awakened by a bump in the night went to investigate and found an intruder, but it wasn't a burglar.

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Instead, Blaine Harling found himself face to snout with a black bear that had come in through an open window.

Harling, 19, moved to Alaska in June from Bend, Ore., found a job on the Kenai Peninsula and has been staying at the cabin belonging to his grandparents, Vic and Jill Harling of Anchorage.

Vic Harling said his grandson was sleeping in the basement Oct. 7 when a noise upstairs woke him.

"He thought it was the blinds flopping in the window from a two feet wide, by five feet high, crank-out window that he had left open for ventilation," he said.

The screened window was open just 18 inches, but that was enough for the adult black bear to slip through.

"He walked into the kitchen and it was just standing there, about three feet away, in front of the refrigerator," Harling said. "So he grabbed the first thing he could which was a shampoo bottle, or a lotion bottle, something like that, and he whipped it at the bear and then he took-off back down to the basement."

Harling pushed a dresser in front of the door and called Alaska State Troopers, who contacted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The teenager also called his grandparents. After he persuaded them he wasn't joking, they told him how to unlock their gun cabinet and he armed himself with a .44-caliber and a .45-caliber handgun, said Jill Harling.

Wildlife technician Larry Lewis reached the Harling's cabin at about 2 a.m. The emergency officials blasted a siren to frighten the bear.

"We spotlighted the house and saw a big black bear out back in the alders, but we couldn't say for certain that it was the same bear," Lewis said.

Lewis and state troopers searched the two-story home to make sure it contained no bears.

"We went room to room, but there were no other signs, so the bear we saw out back must have been the same one that was seen inside," Lewis said. "We think it went out the same window it came in, which was pretty lucky for the homeowner. Had it been a brown bear, they usually exit by making their own hole."

Jill Harling said her grandson created more of a mess by splattering the lotion bottle off the bear's head than the bear did. She and her husband, awakened shortly after 1 a.m. by their grandson, reached the cabin by about 6 a.m.

"It moved a few things around, ate a few muffins that were left out, pulled the garbage out and spread it around, and left nose and paw prints on mirrors and the TV., but there was no real damage," said Vic Harling. "It was amazing really. It didn't even knock over lamps near where it came in."

What the family believes was the same bear appeared on their deck that night. This time, all entrance point to the house were secured.

They're keeping their firearms closer in case the bear returns.

"I wouldn't mind having some bear meat in the freezer," Jill Harling said.

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