A fishing lodge in the Southeast town of Pelican received a surprising dinner guest Saturday night.
As guests were gathered in the dining room, a young brown bear decided the Highliner Lodge’s kitchen would be a good place to find something to eat.
Owner of the lodge Steve Daniels said at first he thought his staff was joking when they told him. The head chef assured him it was not a joke.
“I took two or three big steps towards the kitchen and there he was,” Daniels said in an interview with the Empire. When the 30 or so guests learned a bear was in the building, “it was pandemonium,” he said.
Without thinking, Daniels said he grabbed the nearest thing to throw at the bear — a round of salami — to get it out of the kitchen. He rethought his choice, then he and the head chef threw dinner plates instead.
“We never actually hit the bear,” Daniels said, but the noise was enough to deter it at least for the moment. It went back outside, and Daniels and his guests continued their dinner, amazed at the bear’s boldness.
Daniels posted about it on social media with photos, showing the bear walking on the kitchen’s wooden floor, among shelves of food. Daniels reported the incident to authorities, who have been having issues with the same bear.
Our kitchen staff and guests had a pretty good scare last night during dinner service when a young brown bear walked…
Pelican Public Safety Officer, Robert Adams, confirmed in a Tuesday phone call that he previously received reports of the same bear hanging around the town dump. He said he tried to scare it off with non-lethal means such as air-horns and rubber bullets, but was unsuccessful.
After having been shooed out of the Highliner’s kitchen, the bear remained nearby, foraging on berries behind the lodge, Daniels said. Twice that same night it came back onto the Highliner’s porch, looking for a way back inside.
Daniels said that posed a problem as both guest stay at the lodge, as well as staff. The bear was only about eight feet from one of his server’s room.
“That bear just kept comin’” Daniels said.
Adams decided to put the bear down, due to the danger it posed to the community, and he shot the bear.
Alaska Wildlife Troopers removed the carcass, which turned out to be female. According to Department of Public Safety Public Information Officer Ken Marsh, hide and carcasses of animals killed in defense of life or property must be salvaged by Alaska State Troopers. The remains, typically the pelt and skull are later auctioned off at the state level, or sometimes used for educational purposes.
Daniels said he had hoped for a different outcome, but understood the danger and what had to be done.
He said, “He went down, he didn’t suffer.”
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.