At least two Juneau bears seen rifling through unlocked vehicles in search of food

A black bear on Douglas Island (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

Berries are ripening at lower elevations around Juneau, but the salmon runs have been sparse so far. And so, Juneau’s bear population has been getting creative.

At least two different bears in the area have been opening car doors in search of food, and they have a preferred style of door handle.

“It’s mostly the flat ones that are kind of long and wide,” said Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Roy Churchwell. “It looks [like] it usually starts, at least, by trying to open the door with its mouth. So, maybe a door handle that you push in the button might be a little more difficult for this bear.”

Churchwell said one vehicle with locked doors was damaged when a bear climbed onto the hood and smashed the windshield trying to get in.

Screenshot of a Facebook post featuring photos of a broken car windshield.
Michelle Murinko posted these photos of her car windshield on Facebook on July 13, 2020, saying it was broken by a bear throwing a trashcan at it (Screenshot taken on July 17, 2020).

He said bears have a sense of smell seven times greater than a bloodhound.

“We’ve heard of the bear getting in there for just a small can of peanuts,” Churchwell said. “So, any food or food residue, or food smell that you can keep out of your car, we’re asking people to try and keep their vehicles as clean as they can.”

In addition to removing other attractants like birdseed and pet food, Churchwell recommends locking vehicle doors.

One bear has been getting into vehicles in the Mendenhall Peninsula area along Engineers Cutoff. The other is closer to downtown, starting with vehicles in the Mountainside neighborhood above Twin Lakes. It was recently spotted near Highland Drive and Behrends Avenue.

Churchwell said they put out a trap for that bear. But it moved away from the area before it could be trapped and relocated.

Like what you just read? KTOO news stories are member supported. Support your community news source today. Donate to KTOO.
Site notifications
Update notification options
Subscribe to notifications