By Sally Voth -- firstname.lastname@example.org
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.