Black bear tracks pizza scent, destroys car in Juneau

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A black bear has destroyed a Juneau Pizza employee's car looking for food in a residential neighborhood, raising concerns from wildlife experts that the animal will have future encounters with people.

“I think it was the delicious smell of the pizza that drove the bear to the point where he could not resist the urge to go into the car,” said Andrew Fairchild, who owns the car. “It’s pretty totaled on the inside. The seat belt was ripped completely out. The panel where the stereo is ripped off.”

Fairchild was woken up Friday around 3 a.m. by noise from the neighbors in the Mendenhall Valley area north of the Juneau International Airport, the Juneau Empire reported.

Fairchild said there was no pizza in the car, but the bear likely smelled the scent from his job.

“No playing favorites,” Juneau Pizza said on Facebook. “If the bear wants a pizza, he has to call it in just like everyone else.”

The bear destroyed the inside of the vehicle before returning into the woods.

“Luckily we have local insurance and they completely understand what’s going,” Fairchild said, adding that the car is already in the shop getting repaired.

“If we were able to catch up with the bear, then we’d probably have to capture them. I don’t know if we’ll necessarily set up a trap and wait for someone to report it somewhere we can find it,” Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Roy Churchwell said, adding that it is likely to be euthanized.

Residents are encouraged to keep food out of their cars and keep their doors locked to avoid similar situations, Churchwell said. Things like birdseed, dog food and other strong odor foods could tempt bears and other animals.