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Brown bear shot after breaking kitchen window

Tegan Hanlon

A wildlife trooper shot and killed a brown bear in Sitka Tuesday after the animal ripped off a window screen and reached its paw into a trailer, said the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The break-in occurred around 2:45 p.m. on the 5300 block of Halibut Point Road. A homeowner called police and said she had locked herself in a bedroom. A bear was trying to get into her kitchen, said the Sitka Police Department's call summary.

Police responded with Tim Hall, a wildlife trooper, and Phil Mooney, a local biologist. The incident took place in the same neighborhood where a woman watched in May as a bear devoured her Chihuahua-pug Paco. That incident was widely covered by the media.

On Tuesday, the homeowner told authorities that she had pulled a pizza out of the oven and placed it on the counter when she heard banging. There was a large window in the kitchen area, Mooney said.

"(The bear) reached up and pulled the screen back, folded it back and reached in," he said. "He kind of got ahold of the kitchen (sink) sprayer and pulled on that by the time she came around the corner to see what it was."

Beth Ipsen, trooper spokeswoman, said that the bear ate some dish soap and was pawing around the sink before it was scared off.

"Property damage to the home was minimal, resulting in a broken screen and claw marks," she said.

Mooney said he had seen the culprit before. He collared the bear -- a 4-year-old male -- 25 days earlier. The Department of Fish and Game decided that after Paco's death, they would track the three bears that regularly roam the area, though it remains unclear which ate the dog, Mooney said.

Since Mooney began working as a Sitka biologist in 2003, he said, he has received a few reports of bears walking onto porches, but never reaching their extremities inside.

Ipsen said that the time of day was also unusual. These types of occurrences generally happen in late evening, when it's dark outside, she said.

"Attempts to access the inside of homes, even through open windows, is not common or acceptable," she said.

Hall shot the bear around 4:30 p.m. The bear's hide and skull were salvaged.

It's the first bear that wildlife troopers or the Department of Fish and Game has killed this year in Sitka. In April, a resident shot and killed a bear in self-defense, Mooney said.

Last year, one bear was killed by a Sitka resident. Normally, he said, one or two bears are killed each year.

Reach Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@adn.com or 257-4589.


By TEGAN HANLON
thanlon@adn.com