Bears ripped off eight unit doors at a Haines, Alaska, self-storage facility in search of food earlier this week. The animals discovered canned salmon in one of the spaces, according to Luck Dunbar, who owns Ma's Mini Storage at 628 Small Tracts Road.
“They go through the garage doors like tin foil,” Dunbar said. “I’ve got a paw print on every door going down the other side, which they didn’t get into. But it is devastating. It’s a huge hit for the business.” Dunbar will need to file two separate insurance claims, each with $5,000 deductible, he said.
Most of the units have been boarded with plywood, some of which show new muddy paw prints where bears tried to gain access again. The building and siding also sport claw marks.
The extensive damage from these animals is unusual, according to town officials. Bears have broken into various properties including homes, shops and outbuildings about 20 times in August, which is a dramatic uptick for the town. The Haines City Police Department has fielded more than 200 bear-related calls so far this year, compared to 185 in all of 2019.
Law enforcement have shot 14 bears this year, including four in a densely populated area on Monday after the animals discovered food on a private property. Despite the noise, more bears arrived, forcing police to put up an electrical fence around the site, the source reported.
Natural food such as salmon and berries has been scarce this year. Humans also have a role in more bear sightings, according to Shannon Donahue, executive director of the Great Bear Foundation, which educates people about the animals. “We have a history of people not taking care of their bear attractants, and that affects everyone in the community,” she said, adding that if the animal finds a food source, it’ll return. “Sometimes, in a really intense year, we might see bears breaking into structures that might not even have an attractant in them.”