DILLINGHAM -- A bear busted through the front door of Wanda Kie-Miller’s home in Naknek in Southwest Alaska around 3 a.m July 3. Kie-Miller says her friend was downstairs when it happened.
“I came from my bedroom and looked about top of the stairs, and it was looking right at me," she said. "His head was looking, I don’t know if it saw Tom or not. Tom went down and got the pistol and shot at him and he took off and yeah, it was pretty scary. Didn’t expect that.”
The front door was damaged, but no one was harmed in the incident. Kie-Miller’s parents also experienced a bear break-in about a week and a half ago. They were not home at the time.
Kie-Miller’s daughter, Stephannie Blatchford, was caring for her grandparents’ garden while they were away. Blatchford discovered what she believed was the aftermath of a bear break-in.
“I just happened to go over there cause I needed to water it, and I looked around the corner and their whole backyard was full of trash and that scared me," she said. "I started running back to my mom’s house to go get them to clean it up; they were due back home within three hours of me finding it.”
Dave Crowley from Alaska Fish and Game said it was likely a young adult brown bear and activity is normal for this time of year. The canneries and processors dealt with some bear interference before processing began in June. However, the bear activity in the residential areas of the Alaska Peninsula Highway is unusual.
“With this particular bear he’s going through the front doors so the normal precautions aren’t really all that effective. Wanda’s home might have been first place that was occupied with people that he actually broke into," he said.
"The two previous places ... one was a house that was unoccupied and got into groceries, and the other was a warehouse and he broke down that door and got into some freezers.”
Crowley said residents should practice basic precautions by securing food and trash. He also recommends one extra step.
“If folks in that neighborhood have a deadbolt, in addition to the regular doorknob - I would you know throw that deadbolt and just be aware if something goes bump in the middle of the night at the front door should start paying attention.”
Crowley says he’s hoping bear problems this season are peaking with the fish coming up the rivers.