Jim Landess and his 17-year-old son woke early on the morning of July 7 to the sound of a brown bear attempting to break into their home in Sterling, Alaska. According to the Peninsula Clarion, Landess looked outside his window and found a nine-foot bear knocking on the walls of his home, apparently trying to get inside. Landess began yelling at the animal from his home and caused it to retreat towards the nearby forest. Jim Landess used the opportunity to retrieve a firearm from his truck outside, but the bear quickly circled around and began walking towards both Jim and his son. The two fired off several shots and the bear once again fled back to the woods.
Landess, who is no stranger to bears, said he thought that was the end of the encounter.
“We went back inside assuming this was just a routine of scaring off another bear as we do almost every summer,” he told the Clarion.
Instead, the large brown bear came back several hours after the incident and was in no mood to leave. Landess said he has no idea why the animal was so insistent to get inside the house, especially since he left no food outside. He found the bear on his porch flinging aside some chairs and empty cooler. At this point Landess reportedly retrieved a Hi-Point .45-caliber pistol and shot the bear seven times. The bear reeled from the impact and managed to flee 50 feet from the house before it collapsed.
Landess said afterwards that it was the first big game animal he killed, and that he shot the bear only as a last resort. Alaska Wildlife Troopers arrived on the scene and said that Landess did everything correctly. Experts said that the bear may have learned from other homes that human residences could be an easy food source. Bears are especially more adventurous in summer, when they have to quickly gain weight. A young black bear was killed just days before in Palmer near a residential neighborhood after it spent several days rummaging for food.
“Bears occasionally will wander through our neighborhoods in Palmer, Wasilla and other Valley communities and that’s just a part of living in Alaska,” said Alaska Fish and Game wildlife biologist Todd Rinaldi.
State officials say there have been no bear maulings in Alaska this year.
The Associated Press reported that Landess turned over the hide and skull of the bear he shot to the authorities. The brown bear was estimated to be around five years old and may have come from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.