Black bear not burglar gives Clam Gulch resident a start

Bruin goes bump in the night

Posted: Friday, October 12, 2007

A Clam Gulch resident thought he was dreaming late Saturday evening when a bump in the night that woke him turned out to be a bruin, rather than a burglar.

"My grandson had quite an experience," said Vic Harling, grandfather of Blaine Harling, who actually had the head-on with the bear.

As Harling tells it, his grandson was sleeping in the basement when a noise upstairs woke him.

"He thought it was the blinds flopping in the window from a two feet wide, by five feet high, crank-out window that he had left open for ventilation," he said.

Although the window was only open about 18 inches, according to Harling, it was apparently enough for an adult black bear to slip through, as his grandson was surprised to find out.

"He walked into the kitchen and it was just standing their, about three feet away, in front of the refrigerator. So he grabbed the first thing he could which was a shampoo bottle, or a lotion bottle, something like that and he whipped it at the bear and then he took-off back down to basement," he said.

Once back to the basement, the younger Harling called he Alaska State Troopers, who promptly contacted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Larry, Lewis, a wildlife technician with Fish and Game responded at roughly 2 a.m.

"We spot lighted the house and saw a big black bear out back in the alders, but we couldn't say for certain that it was the same bear," he said.

Lewis and the responding troopers made the decision to search the two story home to ensure their were not other bears still inside.

"We went room to room, but there were no other signs, so the bear we saw out back must have been the same one that was seen inside. We think it went out the same window it came in which was pretty lucky for the homeowner. Had it been a brown bear, they usually exit by making their own hole," he said.

Once the scene was deemed safe, Harling said they began to see if the bear had caused any damage, but there was very little to report.

"It moved a few things around, ate a few muffins that were left out, pulled the garbage out and spread it around, and left nose and paw prints on mirrors and the T.V., but there was no real damage. It was amazing really. It didn't even knock over lamps near where it came in at," Harling said.

As to why his grandson wasn't harmed during the confrontation, Harling said he thinks it was because the bear was caught as off-guard as his relative.

"It didn't lunge at him or anything. I think the bear was stunned," he said.

After being displaced by Lewis and the troopers, the bear was not seen again that night, but Harling said it returned the next evening and a few more nights after that.

"It was on the deck walking around and looking in the same window," he said, but this time all entrance point to the house were securely closed.

Lewis said this incident was an example that bruins are still out and foraging for food despite the cooler temperatures.

"They're not hibernating yet, so people shouldn't lapse in minimizing attractants around their homes and yards," he said.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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