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10/18/2011
Baby bear visits local grocery store
Tatsuda's IGA meat department manager Joe Stoller, leaning over, and produce manager Danny Hernandez clean produce bins Sunday after a bear cub visited the store Saturday evening and walked among the store's fresh produce. Photo by Katherine Tatsuda


By DANELLE LANDIS

Daily News Staff Writer

Tatsuda’s IGA grocery had a small visitor Saturday.

A black bear cub followed a customer into the store and climbed up the produce case, tottering over the fruits and vegetables until it was nabbed by a customer.

After watching a video of the event, Ketchikan Area Fish and Wildlife biologist Boyd Porter said the cub was "extremely small for this time of year."

The cub appeared to be the size a baby would be just as it emerged from the den, he said.

Joe Stollar, Tatsuda’s meat department manager, said he was working as usual Saturday at about 5:45 p.m. when a fellow employee called him on the intercom. "There’s a bird in the store," he thought he heard her say.

"Take the bird home and eat it," he said he answered her jokingly.

Stollar headed to the produce department, net in hand, to catch the "bird."

A customer told him, as he walked by, "There’s a bear in the produce."

Then, he said, he figured it was a person in a costume.

When he caught sight of the scrawny little creature huddling at the top of the produce, he said he called the police and told bystanders, "Somebody go film it!"

One of the videos can be found by typing "bear tatsudas" into youtube.com website’s search box.

Ken Holmes nabbed the cub by its scruff. He carried it to the edge of the woods, Stollar said, where it ran away.

Porter said there very likely will be more sightings of the seemingly orphaned bear. No mother bear was seen in the area.

Two city police officers were on scene. Acting City Police Chief Josh Dossett said the call had originally been called in as, "A bear is in Tatsudas."

The officers assumed it was a full-grown bear, and responded with lights, sirens, and shotguns ready to go.

Store manager and co-owner Katherine Tatsuda said the entire case of food was washed, then donated to a local livestock owner. "Several thousand dollars" worth of stock was lost, she said.

Two employees stayed late cleaning and sanitizing the case, then restocking it.

"We’re not out of anything, and everything is fine," she said.

She said it looked obvious to her that the bear climbed on the produce case to get high, and safe.

"It was definitely an adventure at Tatsuda’s over the weekend," Tatsuda said.