At first, James Batman thought a black, furry dog had sprinted by him at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, near where FedEx parks its cargo planes.
"Then I looked back again and saw it had no tail and realized it was a small black bear," Batman, a 21-year-old ramp agent with PenAir, recounted Friday afternoon, a day after the brief bear viewing.
Batman was driving a piece of equipment used to haul luggage when he spotted the bear. He grabbed his cell phone and took a video, capturing the animal galloping across the lot. Mechanics working on the nearby planes paused and watched.
"After the video, it ran maybe a couple minutes around the tarmac and then ran across the runway and into the woods," Batman said. He has worked at the airport for nearly three years. This was the first time he saw a bear on the job, he said.
The bear's appearance caused the airport to shut down a runway for about 15 minutes, according to Sgt. Dan Juarez with the Anchorage Airport Police and Fire Department.
The bear had gotten into the area by burrowing under a nearby fence, said Trudy Wassel, division operations manager at the airport. Airport staff had since repaired the area.
Wassel said the airport has two, full-time wildlife biologists to handle wildlife issues.
"We take it very seriously," she said.
The airport borders Point Woronzof and Kincaid Park, areas where it's not uncommon to see black bears, said Ken Marsh, a spokesman at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Sometimes bears show up at the airport, but it's not a daily occurrence, Juarez said. On June 29, airport police shot and killed a black bear that had gotten into the parking garage.
"The bear was very aggravated, snapping and a threat to the public," Wassel said.
Reporter Laurel Andrews contributed to this story.