A scary encounter

Black bear chases 5-year-old girl


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This black bear was shot and killed after charging toward a house on Fish Hatchery Road in Eagle River on Sept. 28. Earlier that evening, the same bear chased 5-year-old Alexis Morrow.

PHOTO COURTESY OF EMILIE ARVIDSON

Living on Fish Hatchery Road, Emilie Arvidson has seen several bears over the years in the Eagle River neighborhood.

“I never really was scared of them,” she said. “Now, I am.”

Arvidson’s attitude changed after her 5-year-old daughter, Alexis Morrow, had an up-close encounter with a black bear the evening of Sept. 28.

As Morrow and her friend played, Arvidson watched from inside her car where her 3-year-old was sleeping. All of a sudden, Morrow bolted for her mom’s vehicle.

“I heard her run around my car yelling,” Arvidson said.

The bear, which Arvidson estimated weighed between 325 and 350 pounds, had approached Morrow from behind as she was playing on a swing set.

When she ran by the driver side window, Morrow yelled, “Bear.”

Arvidson said the bear chased her daughter several times around the vehicle, whose doors automatically lock. Arvidson got out of the car and put herself between the bear and her daughter.

“I could reach out and touch it,” she said.

After yelling and kicking rocks at the animal failed to scare it off, Arvidson fired a round at the bear from the 40 Springfield she keeps in her car.

The animal ran away, but not for long.

Later that night, Arvidson said the bear returned to her house and was standing on the front porch.

“It came back to my house three times,” Arvidson said.

The final encounter came as Arvidson was getting a lesson on how to fire a shotgun. Her friend, who’s in the military, was holding the weapon when the bear ran out of the woods toward the house. It took three rounds from the shotgun to stop and kill the charging bear, she said.

The animal might be gone, but the events of that day have had a lasting effect.

“I still can’t get the image out of my head,” Arvidson said. “My kids are scared to go outside.”

Black bears usually aren’t aggressive with people, said Dave Battle, Alaska Department of Fish and Game assistant area biologist.

“We almost never have black bears show aggression toward humans,” he said. “It’s very, very rare.”

However, Battle said, it is typical for bears to pursue anything that runs away.

“Bears do chase things that run from them,” he said.

While he doesn’t fault such a young girl for running from a bear, Battle said it’s important for parents to educate their children what to do if they encounter a bear.

“It’s kids natural instinct to run from a bear,” he said. “That’s never the right thing to do.”

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com.

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