Alaska, Featured, Outdoors

Black Bear Wanders into the Breeze Inn Lobby

Adolescent black bear walking in Breeze Inn lobby. Photo: Cheryl Verschueren
by Kelley Lane for Seward City News-

On Sunday afternoon, just before 3pm, an adolescent black bear walked into the Breeze Inn, located near the Boat Harbor in Seward. The bear entered the lobby through the back door, which was propped open while housekeeping and maintenance was being done on the nearby hotel rooms. The bear then walked down the long hallway, past meeting rooms and entered the main lobby of the hotel, where it wandered around, smelling the stuffed bear that is prominently displayed, according to Carly Coats, who works at the Breeze Inn’s front desk.

A Breeze Inn Employee encourages the bear to move towards the doors. Photo: Cheryl Verschueren

The hotel’s staff propped open the front door and began encouraging the animal to leave the hotel, while the bear climbed atop one of the couches and pressed its paws against the glass, leaving prints that were clearly visible two hours later. Hotel staff were eventually able to herd the bear out the front door, at which point the bear crossed the Seward Highway, and proceeded towards the boardwalk surrounding Seward’s lagoon, a body of water sandwiched between the highway and a residential street. According to Cheryl Verschueren, who was working at the Breeze Inn’s front desk when the bear arrived, there had never been a bear in the Breeze Inn before Sunday. She did remember a bear attempting to enter the bank building that currently houses Wells Fargo, in 1999.

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Verschueren stated that the bear had been “chased [into the hotel] by people trying to take photographs.” When trying to get the bear to exit the hotel, a similar obstacle made it difficult to get the bear to leave the premises. The front parking lot was full of people eager to take the bear’s photo, many of them standing on their cars. The bear is presumed to be the same one that had been wandering around the Seward Harbor earlier in the day, and had also been spotted at the nearby Chevron Station. After the bear departed, business went back to normal at the Breeze Inn. Two visitors from Oklahoma and Florida were sharing one of the rooms located along the walkway near where the bear had entered the hotel. When asked about the bear, there response was one of disbelief and excitement “I can’t believe it! I could have hugged it,” said Dawn Oliver, of Oklahoma.”

The black bear exits through the front door of the Breeze Inn’s lobby. Photo: Cheryl Verschueren

Seward sits at the base of Bear and Marathon Mountains, both of which provide ample habitat and food for a healthy black bear population. In Alaska the separation between towns and wilderness is often thin and undefined, and indistinguishable for wildlife. The various Seward Facebook groups have been noting bears around town the past few days. Sunday’s sighting serves as a new reminder of how crucial it is to be situationally aware and to be careful to keep food and odorous garbage secure.

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