Photo courtesy Jim Landess Sterling resident Jim Landess kneels next to the 9-foot brown bear he killed after it attempted to break into his house on July 7.

Photo courtesy Jim Landess Sterling resident Jim Landess kneels next to the 9-foot brown bear he killed after it attempted to break into his house on July 7.

Brown bear killed at Sterling residence

  • Monday, July 14, 2014 11:23pm
  • News

A Sterling man killed a 9-foot brown bear with a pistol after the bear attempted to break into his home multiple times in the early morning of July 7.

Jim Landess and his 17-year-old son Montana Landess awoke at about 3:30 a.m. to the sound of a brown bear knocking on his house on Bunno Road on the east edge of Sterling.

“There was some loud banging on one of my windows in the first level and pounding on my walls which shook the whole house,” Landess wrote in an email. “My son was sleeping downstairs and stood up to be eye-level with a 9-foot brown bear looking at him through the dinning room window.”

Landess said he looked outside his upstairs window and saw the bear peaking over the bed of his pickup truck. He yelled at the bear and his dog barked, which caused the bear to run into the woods.

Landess said he walked into the woods and told his son to keep an eye on the bear so he could grab a gun from his truck. While he went to get a gun outside, the bear circled around to the end of his driveway and started to walk back toward him.

Both Landess and his son shot a couple rounds off and the bear scattered back into the woods.

“We went back inside assuming this was just a routine of scaring off another bear as we do almost every summer,” he said.

After going to bed for the night, Landess received an early morning wake up call from the bear. At about 6 a.m. he heard more banging in front of the house as the bear attempted to get inside.

“I couldn’t believe that it came back,” he said.

Landess grabbed his highpoint .45 pistol stepped out onto his upper deck, took aim and fired seven rounds toward the bear’s vitals. He said the bear “got crazy” and started running about 50 feet before it collapsed and died.

Landess said while he has seen bears around his property in the past living in close proximity to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, he had never experienced one this aggressive. He said he didn’t have any food around his house that could have attracted the bear but did have an empty cooler on his porch that the bear tossed around along with some chairs. He said this was the first big game he’s ever killed.

“I’m not a hunter; I’m a fisherman,” he said. “It wasn’t something I wanted to do. I wanted to scare him off.”

After his adrenaline slowed down, Landess called the Alaska State Wildlife Troopers. Troopers advised him to skin the bear and bring in the hide, head and feet into the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office. The bear was a male, estimated to be five years old.

Fish and Game area biologist Jeff Selinger said law requires people to bring in the hide and skull and fill out a defense of life and property report. While the bear didn’t get into any food left out, if it has learned from other residences about a food source, a bear can become more persistent, he said.

“It sounds like he tried to scare it off,” Selinger said. “You can do everything right at a residence, but if the bear has learned from other places where to obtain food sources it puts those animals in close proximity around residential areas.”

While bear sightings and reports of bears getting into Dumpsters and chicken coops are common, the number of bear issues on the Kenai Peninsula this year appears to be down. Bears need to put on a third or more of body weight on over the summer to survive hibernation, Selinger said.

He said no bear maulings have been reported this year.

“Bears are tolerant of people in a lot of situations,” he said. “They are either raising their young, eating or sleeping.”

Wildlife Trooper Lieutenant Paul McConnell said the trooper who responded to the incident at Landess’ property found nothing suspicious and the property owner fulfilled his legal requirements. McConnell said he has seen less reports of bears causing problems since the brown bear harvest hunts started a couple years ago from September to the end of May.

Landess said interactions with wildlife are just another aspect of living in Alaska.

“(My encounter) is a reminder of where we live and that everyone should be aware of their surroundings this time of year,” Landess said.

Reach Dan Balmer at

More in News

LaDawn Druce asks Sen. Jesse Bjorkman a question during a town hall event on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
District unions call for ‘walk-in’ school funding protest

The unions have issued invitations to city councils, the borough assembly, the Board of Education and others

House District 6 race gets 3rd candidate

Alana Greear filed a letter of intent to run on April 5

Kenai City Hall is seen on Feb. 20, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai water treatment plant project moves forward

The city will contract with Anchorage-based HDL Engineering Consultants for design and engineering of a new water treatment plant pumphouse

Students of Soldotna High School stage a walkout in protest of the veto of Senate Bill 140 in front of their school in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi students walk out for school funding

The protest was in response to the veto of an education bill that would have increased school funding

The Kenai Courthouse as seen on Monday, July 3, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Clam Gulch resident convicted of 60 counts for sexual abuse of a minor

The conviction came at the end of a three-week trial at the Kenai Courthouse

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meets in Seward, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (screenshot)
Borough awards contract for replacement of Seward High School track

The project is part of a bond package that funds major deferred maintenance projects at 10 borough schools

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President LaDawn Druce, left, and committee Chair Jason Tauriainen, right, participate in the first meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Four Day School Week Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
4-day school week committee talks purpose of potential change, possible calendar

The change could help curb costs on things like substitutes, according to district estimates

A studded tire is attached to a very cool car in the parking lot of the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Studded tire removal deadline extended

A 15-day extension was issued via emergency order for communities above the 60 degrees latitude line

A sign for Peninsula Community Health Services stands outside their facility in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
PCHS to pursue Nikiski expansion, moves to meet other community needs

PCHS is a private, nonprofit organization that provides access to health care to anyone in the community

Most Read