A Juneau Pizza employee had an extremely insistent — and hirsute — customer break into his car early Friday morning.
“I think it was the delicious smell of the pizza that drove the bear to the point where he could not resist the urge to go into the car,” said Andrew Fairchild, whose car was destroyed by a black bear that climbed into his car, in a phone interview. “It’s pretty totalled on the inside. The seat belt was ripped completely out. The panel where the stereo is ripped off.”
Fairchild was woken up at around 3 a.m. by noise from the neighbors near Threadneedle Street in the Mendenhall Valley area. There was no pizza in the car, but bears have extremely sensitive noses, and are known to break into cars to follow the scent of food.
“It was about 3 a.m., in the wee hours of the morning,” Fairchild said. “We were awoken by a commotion by all the neighbors standing around. It kept honking the horn.”
The bear destroyed the interior of the car. The bear was released and moved into the woods, before circling around for another attempt.
“It opened the door to my daughter’s minivan,” Fairchild said. “It opened the door, but it did no damage.”
The vehicle is already under repair, thanks to local companies that are understanding of things like ‘bear attack,’ Fairchild said.
“Luckily we have local insurance and they completely understand what’s going,” Fairchild said. “Fix Auto was immediately on top of it and it’s already in the shop. Also, thanks to Capital Towing.”
While Fairchild doesn’t seem especially annoyed with the so-called “Pizza Bear’s” visit, its behavior could be cause for euthanasia.
“If we were able to catch up with the bear, then we’d probably have to capture them. I don’t know if we’ll necessarily set up a trap and wait for someone to report it somewhere we can find it,” said Roy Churchwell, area biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in a phone interview. “We would probably euthanize it. There aren’t many places where we could relocate it. Breaking into cars brings it up to that next level of damage.”
The news of the inquisitive intruder comes quick on the heels of word from fish and game, who euthanized two bears involved in an alleged attack on a man in a residence near Switzer Creek. Bears have had many run-ins with people this summer, Churchwell said.
“Unusually so,” Churchwell said. “In at least three different neighborhoods. We think that’s probably at least two bears if not more that have figured out how to get into cars.”
The best way to keep bears out of one’s car is to keep food out and to keep the doors locked. Things like birdseed, dog food, and strong food odors may be enough to tempt a bear into having a closer look, Churchwell said.
Juneau Pizza had an admonishment for the furry fan on their Facebook.
“No playing favorites,” Juneau Pizza posted. “If the bear wants a pizza, he has to call it in just like everyone else.”
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.