Furry burglar breaks into Oregon home a third - and final - time

Furry burglar breaks into Oregon home a third - and final - time
FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2010 photo, a Black bear is seen in a tree in Medford, Ore.. Police monitored the animal throughout the day and hope that he will return to the wild at nightfall. It's that time of year again in the Intermountain West, when the lumbering beasts are piling on the calories to prepare for the winter ahead and hibernation. But finding enough food isn't easy. As a result, some communities are seeing more bears poking through garbage or nosing around backyard orchards. State wildlife agents have been kept busy, advising people to put away bird feed, stow trash and keep any other smelly objects under wraps. (AP Photo/Medford Mail-Tribune, Roy Musitelli)

CAVE JUNCTION, Ore. (AP) — A burglarizing black bear that broke into an 85-year-old woman's rural Cave Junction house twice over the weekend was trapped by state biologists when it returned for a third time early Tuesday.

The 250-pound male bear twice clawed through Laverne Potter's front door to get at her stash of rice and dried vegetables, ransacking the place in the process.

Potter confronted the bear late Sunday night with a shotgun, but the bear hot-footed it through the broken door before any shots were fired.

"If I had to take him out, I would have," Potter told the Medford Mail Tribune.

"I'm a vegetarian and I've never killed anything in my life," Potter said. "(But) to have him break in and throw my stuff all over the place was scary."

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Mark Vargas said he later fatally shot the bear and took the carcass to a local butcher for processing.

"The bear, obviously, was not afraid of people and not afraid of going into houses," Vargas said.

The meat will either be donated to an area food pantry and given to needy families or given directly to a qualified family that covers the processing costs, which normally are about $100, Vargas said.

"I was sorry I couldn't say just to turn it loose because it would have broken into someone else's house," Potter said. "I was afraid my neighbor could be the next one."

Potter said it was the first time she has experienced any bear problems during her 30 years of living along the East Fork of the Illinois River.

Her ordeal began abruptly Saturday night when the bear clawed through her stained-glass door and hauled away two 5-gallon buckets containing rice and dried split peas, Potter said.

"It was terrible," she said. "It just took its paws and slapped everything around."

Potter had a friend board up the door and she played a radio loudly in the living room in hopes of keeping the burglarizing bruin away, she said. But all it did was keep her awake and the animal sneaked in when she finally fell asleep, Potter said.

Potter was armed when the pair came face to face, but said she would have shot it only in defense.

Vargas on Monday placed the department's large bear box trap, which is welded to a trailer, in front of her porch. He baited it with dead fish.

Early Tuesday, the bear crept onto Potter's porch and knocked over some furniture before back-tracking to the trap, she said. When it stepped far enough in, its paws triggered the gate to drop shut and end its adventures at the home.

The wildlife department has logged a threefold increase in bear damage reports this year in Jackson and Josephine counties, with bears breaking into houses in and around Ashland, Grants Pass, Williams and Eagle Point.

Wildlife officials say offending bears are not given reprieves because bears that connect people to food tend to continue their behavior elsewhere.


Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/


Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.