Sunday, July 5, 2009


It has been prettty warm the past few days, and as you can see in the photo below, the front office area of my security building (aka "guard shack") is very similar to a greenhouse. With that much glass the solar gain is considerable. Normally it is air conditioned this time of the year, so it isn't that big a deal, but our AC hasn't been working properly, so with outdoor temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s the indoor temperature has been recorded as high as the mid-90s.

At about 1:30 in the morning last night I was finishing up some paperwork and happened to glance over my shoulder toward the door, and was startled to see a trespasser gazing back at me.
Here's a photo that pretty accurately shows the view from the trespasser's perspective:

It was one of those situations in which you pretty much say the word and do the deed simultaneously. The trespasser saved me the embarrassment of doing the deed (and filling my pants with the 'do', by doing the deed himself, leaving a pile of fresh, steaming feces as he made a mad dash toward the fence line.

Quick like a bunny I dashed over to my patrol car and engaged in hot pursuit, chasing the trespasser out of the compound through a gate some worker had left unsecured during the previous day. This guy wasn't your normal, run of the mill curious tourist. He was a nice sized specimen of the species urus americanus, or American black bear about the same size as the one in the image below.

Alaska is home to all three of North America's bear species (black bears, brown/grizly bears and polar bears), but it's rare for more than 1 to be found in a particular area. Black bears are the smallest of the three, and are pretty common around my place of employment.

Grizly bears are considerably larger than blackies, and have a reputation for being much more dangerous. When startled, black bears are most likely to run off, but grizly bears are more likely to attack. Had this trespasser been a grizly my shouted epithet would more likely have prompted a charge than an escape attempt.

In most cases if either a black or grizly bear knows you are in the area either one will try to avoid you. They won't hunt humans for food unless they are absolutely starving to death, though they will gladly raid your garbage cans, dumpters or even your house if they get a chance to do so.

Polar bears, on the other hand, are more interested in the human than the human's garbage, and consider humans to be an active participant in the food chain. Fortunately they are found only along the coast, and are pretty darned rare.

It has been an active tour of duty for wildlife sightings. In the past two weeks I've seen a young wolf trotting down the access road, a martin crossing that road, several porcupines, a heck of a lot of snowshoe hares and of course one trespassing black bear.

This tour is growing short, and I imagine the next time I tell the story it will be over a cold pint at the Trapline Lounge in the Two Rivers Lodge. There is likely to be a handful of locals and a bus load of tourists and no sourdough worthy of the title would miss an opportunity to embellish the story just a little bit. Maybe it will go something like this....

...I glanced over my shoulder and there, standing in the door, was the biggest, meanest, smelliest grizly bear you can imagine. I looked him in his piggish little eye and realized I was in a tight spot. There I was, trapped in the corner, sitting in a chair and not nearly enough time to even contemplate going for my gun. He was so close I could smell the fish on his breath and hear his stomache growling. At that point there was only one thing left to do, so I started prayin'.

Now, I'm not usually a prayin' sort of feller, and I knew I have no right to ask for deliverence from such a situation, so I prayed for the next best thing, saying "Lord, the best I can hope for is that you will have sent a Christian bear."

At that point I was astonished to see that old bear drop down onto his hind knees. He folded those big old paws together, looked up to the heavens and sure enough, he started praying. At that point I thought I might indeed be saved until I heard the words he was a muttering - saying "God, I thank thee for the meal which I am about to receive."

Then he jumped, and I knew my only hope was to strangle that bear, so that's what I did. I strangled him.

Yep, I got caught in his throat and choked him to death......

Now there is version that is properly embellished, sourdough style.



  1. Red, glad your visitor was ONLY a black! Now about your embellished tale!! Haven't I heard that one before? LOL

  2. G'day Swanny - been reading your blogs all along since the winter racing and always enjoying them (and before, as you may remember) but had to comment today - loved it!! I don't think I would have liked sitting in your chair but would have enjoyed the story at the bar :-) AussieAlaskan