A black bear making the rounds in the Thane area apparently prefers cleanliness over fresh-baked cheese pinwheels.
Suey Linzmeier, who lives just past Sheep Creek, had heard a bear was causing trouble in her neighborhood. But the news didn't brace her for the shock of finding one in her woodshed at about 2 p.m. Monday.
"I was putting some stuff in the freezer and I looked up and there was the bear in the woodshed," she said. "And I went, "Agghhh!' and went out the other end of the woodshed, running, thinking 'Oh my God he's after me.' "
Linzmeier went around to the front of the house, not realizing she had left the door between the woodshed and kitchen door ajar. The bear noticed, went inside and wandered into the bathroom. Linzmeier constructed a barrier with chairs and started yelling and banging on the counter.
The bear paid no notice, deciding instead to take a shower.
"While he was in the bathroom I could hear him getting into the shower stall and wiggling around and then I heard him drink out of the toilet," she said. "And after he was done drinking out of the toilet, he wiggled into the shower some more and turned on the shower. Later on, when I had gone in after he left the house, I realized he wiped his face on my husband's bathrobe."
After about five minutes in the bathroom, Linzmeier said the bear headed toward the kitchen, where cheese pinwheels were cooling on the counters. Linzmeier works for the National Association for the Education of Young Children of Southeast Alaska and was preparing for a baking-with-kids workshop in Sitka. In fact, she'd been baking for three days.
"He was sniffing and he was thinking, 'Should I go over there?' but I was standing by and he went out the door," she said. "I closed the door and locked it."
And so the Linzmeier household, including the parrot in the kitchen, a blue heeler and a malamute, survived. Except for some muddy footprints, the inside of the house - and the pinwheels - were intact. The bear spent the rest of the afternoon in the yard, Linzmeier said.
"We heard him pawing on the back door and fiddling with the door knob," she said. "Then at about 4 p.m. he ripped the doors off our garbage shed and took a little bit of trash."
Neil Barten, area wildlife biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game, said his office and the Juneau police are familiar with the large male adult bear.
It likely was the same bear that injured a Thane dog in mid-October, he said. Barten hopes the bear hibernates soon because he'll have to kill it if it keeps getting into trouble. He hasn't had much luck moving bears out of town lately, he said.
"This one sounds like it is making a little bit of a home in some of the neighborhoods," he said. "Certainly people there need to keep a tight watch on their garbage or anything else."
As for the bear's bathroom primping?
"It's interesting how smart and slinky and coordinated they can be when they want to be," he said.
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.