Shoppers at an East Anchorage Target on Sunday got a surprise when they came across a black bear trying to enter the store.
Elizabeth Shea and her friend were shopping with their two little girls at the Tikahtnu Commons shopping center along Muldoon Road when they heard people screaming.
"I think there's a bear over there," said Shea's friend.
Shea turned and saw the bear, which seemed close enough that the women grabbed their daughters and stood in the store's entrance. The bear had wandered by the Target, but then headed in the direction of Sports Authority next door.
When the bear couldn't enter the store, it moved toward Shea and the others but then quickly turned away and ran toward a nearby IHOP restaurant.
"We all felt really bad for him, he didn't seem menacing or threatening at all," Shea said. "In fact, the little girls said he just seemed really scared and lost."
Sports Authority manager Steven Spicer realized something was going on when "a bunch of people" suddenly ran into the store. Spicer went to the front door and noticed the bear headed toward door of the sporting goods store.
Spicer asked everyone to stay inside and shut off the power to the automatic doors to keep the bear out. He said the group that rushed in stood nearby, taking pictures of the bear near the door.
Spicer, who has worked at the East Anchorage location for four years, said it was the first time he had ever seen a bear wander through.
"That's a rare occurrence," he said.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game Anchorage area biologist Dave Battle said he's received several reports of a bear in the Tikahtnu Commons area, but has not yet responded since reports are always made a day or two after the bears are in the area.
He said bears searching for garbage around the shopping center are not uncommon. Some businesses had taken steps to reduce bear encounters by having locking garbage cans, he said.
Battle hadn't seen the video Monday and could not confirm whether the Target bear was related to a group of bears that's been spotted near Bartlett High School, or a group near Centennial Park that saw a cub speared by a resident of a homeless camp earlier this month.
"There are plenty of bears around (Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson) and Muldoon (Road)," he said. "It's hard to say whether it's the same ones."
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