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Bear in house wakes up Fort Valley woman

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

Some people can be bears in the morning, but one Fort Valley woman woke up to a bear Friday morning.

Shenandoah County Sheriff's deputies were called to the 6500 block of St. David's Church road at about 11:30 a.m., Lt. Wesley Dellinger said.

"The homeowner was asleep this morning -- she apparently works night shift -- and was awakened by noise in the kitchen," he said.

It turned out a 100-pound black bear had gotten into the unidentified woman's house through an open kitchen window, Dellinger said.

"She exited through another open window of the home," he said.

While Shenandoah County Animal Control Officer Steve Bowers was assessing how to get into the locked home, the bear left through the same window it had come in, according to Dellinger, who estimated the bear was in the home for a half-hour.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries district wildlife biologist Fred Frenzel was also called to the home, but the bear had already left upon his arrival.

He said he'd spoken to the home's resident.

"She looked out the bedroom door and saw a bear sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor with food and trash scattered all around," Frenzel said.

It's thought a hummingbird feeder on the property had attracted the bear, he said. The woman had noticed something had gotten into the feeder the previous day, Frenzel said.

He said the bear tore through a screen to get inside.

"It's very rare we have a bear get into an occupied house," Frenzel said, adding he can count on one hand the number of times a bear has broken into a house in his 22 years with the department.

A trap has been set for the bear, which will likely be put down if caught, he said.

"Bears do learn things," Frenzel said. "They have learned behavior. If they learn that doing something provides a good [food] source, they're likely to do that same thing again. If we release it somewhere else, it will probably just do the same thing somewhere else again. There's no place I can put a bear that it can't be at somebody's house by the next day. Once one's learned this type of behavior, generally, we euthanize the animal."

Aside from getting into food and trash, the bear didn't do much damage to the home, he said.


Why should a trap be set for this bear?! I cannot believe this creature will be killed just because he came through a window (after smelling garbage).

I would rather have a bear break in than a human.

This animal didn't hurt anyone - just hungry. Stop killing animals who are simply looking for food. Learned behavior?
Don't kill this creature!

Rusty, where are you? As soon as I saw there was one reply to the story I knew it would be Diana. Guess what? Sure enough there she was with her one track comment. Diana, please reread the story slowly especially the part about "learned behavior". What if a child had wandered into the room and been attacked. Please think before you go off on these PETA fueled rants of yours.

Why don't you get over your inhumane attitudes and your warn out idiotic response? I don't need PETA or anyone else to care about animals and I also don't give a d--- if you like my comments or not.

I'm sick and tired of animals being killed everytime something happens. There was no one injured, there were no children involved and no one was attacked (so leave the what if's out). This is a creature looking for food and he smelled garbage through an open window - that all.

If I lived in Fort Valley, I would probably secure a window (especially at night). Animals were here before humans took over their habitat and they have a right to live too.

This "learned behavior theory" is only an excuse. If the freakin window is closed, this bear will simply go away. Bears are (usually) vegetarian creatures who run from people. I know the feeling!

Well, not everyone is wealthy enough to have an air conditioner or the money for the electric to run it so that means they need to sleep with their windows open.

What part of the "tore out the screen" do you not understand. I had a bear take down my 16 foot aluminum garage door to get to some apples. And believe me if I had been home when it did it I would have met it a the door into the garage with the double barrel shotgun loaded with slugs.

When the bear breaks into a house it has done a criminal act which it will continue to do and since you can't put them in jail there is only one solution.

The same bear was trying to break down the door to my sun porch to get to my pet food and the neighbor took care of the problem bear. It had also tore down the door into two other neighbors screened in porches to get pet food.

Maybe if the bear would put as much energy into thinning out the deer population as he did in to breaking into houses I wouldn't find deer dead from wasting disease in my field.

I have nothing personal against you, I agree to disagree with you but some of your rants on the stock prices are the type that make people run to eat a steak and do not come across as a sane reasonable try to educate on your point of view.

If I lived in that house that poor little bear would be a rug for my living room floor by now. Diana, you watch too many "Bambi" and "Lion King" moves.

I remember reading a comment from Diana months ago. Diana was telling how she picked up a stray pit bull and put it in the back seat with her child who fed it while she drove. "It was the sweetest animal" she wrote. I responded by saying please dont put a stray animal in the back with your child and please don't have anymore children. I believe you have a good heart Diana, but, you lack common sence.

A bear cannot commit a criminal act because it is a BEAR, not a person! The bear is looking for an easy way to get food. Pet food on a sun porch is easy food. If you live in an area where there are bears there are things you can do like not leave pet food on a screened in sun porch. If you don't want to adapt to the area you live in I recommend you move. I don't want to sound hostile because I have no idea who you are but your argument is ridiculous.

Diana, I understand your concern for wildlife. However, once an animal that is easily capable of killing a human loses it's fear of us. It's just a matter of time before a "incident" will occur.

As this bear becomes more relaxed around humans, it will then turn more aggressive to get what it wants. As it learns it's easier to take from us than forage in the wild, this behavior will worsen with time. Ask anyone that works professionally dealing with wild animals.

That is why animals like this are destroyed, base on past experience, the pros know that over time, this animal's interaction with humans and aggressiveness towards us will increase.

Get your facts straight! I'm probably not the only person who has ever used the name Diana. I would NEVER put a pit bull in a back seat with a child and I never wrote anything like that.

So you've got the wrong Diana, Mr. Know it all.

My compassion for animals comes from my direct and close personal relationship with a dear grandmother who loved all of Nature: animals were a part of that world. I grew up with a respect for the creatures who have a right to live in this world.

And noffy'say, I've never seen the Lion King but I've heard of Bambi. I wasn't educated on cartoons or movies. Were you?

I'm always amazed at the anger projected when people have their way of life questioned. Man (as in mankind) must destroy everything in order to feed his own selfish cravings and ego. Maybe some of you need to educate yourself or at the very least wonder why you are so darn upset.

You need not worry, no one is taking your pink slime burger away. They will keep doing it all for you and then some.

And thanks Sarah for showing your intelligence. Animals don't commit crimes, you are correct, but man keeps taking up all the space: where do they go? Does every inch of space have to be claimed?

They don't destroy the bears they trap - they just relocate them further away. We've had a bear problem in Front Royal for several years now. And believe me, you WOULD NOT prefer to have a bear in your house.

A bear has learned behavor so it get's put down.Does this apply to homeless and poor people to?

Problem solved, Diana all you have to do now is contact animal control and tell thm your property location. Sounds like you are willing to take the chance of having this bear harm you or anyone you may cre about and sounds like you know EXACTLY how to handle the situation of it not getting into your home. You say man is taking space away from animals, Fort Valley is next to a National Forest where the animals have space. I am not saying that putting this animal down is the only option, however it is the best option fo this area. To relocate this animal in an area where homes are present would be asking for trouble. Yes I am doing the what if thing because we live a life of what if's. I mean do you wear your seatbelt while driving? Other than it being the law why do you wear it? If this artical said that the state of Virginia was paying to reloate this animal to a remote area states away I am sure that you would complain it was costing tax payer money. The decision to put the animal down is the best one for this area.

I said a sun porch, you know a glass and frame porch, not a screen porch.

So if a bear cannot commit a crime then I guess it is not a crime to let my pit bull bite someone either.

Diana you are constantly using emotion over intellect with regards to animals. Not that there is anything wrong with supporting animals and I myself enjoy wildlife as much as anyone(heading to "the drive" this afternoon). Any reasonable mind should certainly understand if a bear goes through a screen window and scores food there a good chance he will try it again. They are going to trap and kill him so he does not end up in a room with a person. If there was anywhere they could take him where no houses were close they probably would but that does not exist. I don't know why I am even wasting my time because you will never get it that sometime an animal has to die so a son, daughter or grandma is not harmed. You are the same person who not only abstains from meat but tries to scare everbody else in doing the same thing. Or make a point with people about abstaining from meat due cattle mistreatment on feed lots in the midwest even though every human generation has ate meat throughout our entire evolution. If you feel that strong about your misguided causes there is probably other places to possibly yeild more success for you than the nvd.com site that you hover around. You have been here longer I have and it's just not working and it never will.

"When the bear breaks into a house it has done a criminal act "

Yep under section Yogi....B/E Bear Entering.....

This is why I choose not to live in the country, too many delinquent bears.

If you choose to live in the country, then you choose to live WITH the wildlife. Learn to deal with them.

"So if a bear cannot commit a crime then I guess it is not a crime to let my pit bull bite someone either."

The pit bull is under your control, it's your dog. The bear is wild. The crime would not be the dog biting, the crime would be your negligence for keeping the dog under control so that it could attack.

You are responsible for your pit bull so if you knowingly let your pit bull bite some one then you commit the crime.

Take it to an animal sanctuary; I'll pay for the damn gas. This bear is following instinct and finding food for itself to survive, it is not committing a crime.
Here's a thought: instead of giving criminals all of the luxuries at the new coushy jail at the tax payer's expense, let's just put them down. After all it's "learned behavior" and they will never change.

I feel bad that this bear is evidently going to be put down because of the ignorance of some people. This bear is doing what his DNA is telling him to do---use his senses to search out and find food to survive. If people choose to live in those areas that have bear, it is incumbent upon them to do what it takes on their part to educate themselves in order to co-exist. There has been so much information written about living with bears, it is hard to believe that anyone would not be aware of it or at least know where to find information. Although I know it did not say it in this news article, all the information written about not leaving out unsecured animal-proof trash seems to go on deaf ears with some people. This woman evidently had a humming bird feeder. That, along with a regular bird feeder, will attract a bear just as much as trash left out. You want bird feeders that bad? Better rethink living in the country and move into a city or at least into town.

I grew up in "bear country" and I have moved back to "bear country" in the last 20 years (after living and working in cities for years). Yes, bears do now-and-then walk through our property but they never stay because there is nothing here to encourage them to stay and get into. We have NO bird feeders of any kind, no trash is left outside, and we even do NOT keep food out on tables or counters in our house in front of open windows or screen doors other than when we are actually having a meal! We even have been careful to not grow berries or any kind of fruit trees on our property. It is really not hard to do----it is really not hard to co-exist with bears and other wild animals. It just takes educating yourself, and "thinking".

Bears will be bears and I do not want my ignorance to be responsible for making some bear (just being "a bear"), pay the price for my stupidity.

This is indeed a fascinating insight.

Permit me to paraphrase slightly Mr. Frenzel's expert observations:

""Politicians do learn things," Frenzel said. "They have learned behavior. If they learn that doing something provides a good money or power source, they're likely to do that same thing again. If we re-elect him due to their promises to change their ways, they will probably just do the same thing somewhere else again. There's no place I can put a politician that he can't be robbing somebody else by the next day. Once one's learned this type of behavior, generally, we euthanize the politician."

May I suggest Hemlock?

People rob banks, steal from their own family, and murder others to take their wallets in order to get a few bucks to survive. Do you feel sorry for them??? What about child molestors that were also molested as children. That's learned behavior, is it not? Do you feel sorry for them?? No, instead we're demanding, before trial, that they be put to death or castrated.

I hate that the bear has to be put down, but even if this lady keeps the windows shut from now on, the bear will be going from house to house like it's Halloween. If he doesn't get food, his "tricks" may become deadly to an unsuspecting family.

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