Hungry as a bear |

Hungry as a bear

Cory McConnell
Appeal Staff Writer

Cory McConnell/Nevada Appeal Tawnya McDowell poses in front of a fresh batch of groceries after what was most likely a bear broke into her house though a window and raided the kitchen.

Ten days after Tawnya McDowell, her husband and two children moved into their new home in Washoe Valley last April, she woke up to a large black bear sprawled on her deck, eating sidewalk chalk.

“It was like a welcoming present,” she joked.

Friday, just four months later, she came home from a day out with the kids and her mother-in-law to find another “present.”

What almost certainly was a bear had ripped the screen out of an open window, let itself in – taking care not to knock over a nearby set of bongo drums – and proceeded straight to the kitchen.

Cereal boxes were ripped open, about half a dozen soda cans had been punctured and drained, and the refrigerator had been raided.

Apparently, the animal prefers dairy – about a quarter-tub of butter, a dozen eggs, milk and cheese had been devoured.

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The beast wasn’t afraid to try new things, either, ripping open and sampling a carton of fish food.

McDowell had just been grocery shopping the day before and stocked her now-empty food- and slobber-smeared shelves. She figures the bear got about $100 worth of goods.

“I was absolutely shocked,” she said.

“All the doors were still closed, so we were afraid it was still in here,” she said of walking into the mess with her two boys, ages 2 and 4.

At 7 p.m., about four hours after coming home to find the strewn-about food, McDowell was standing outside with her husband when she finally got a glimpse of her guest, a bear “with blonde on top” slowly sauntering toward them. They started making noise until the bear did a lazy aboutface and ever so slowly disappeared into the woods.

The bear, she said, was headed right toward the open window, “and he wasn’t scared of us at all.”

From now on, McDowell said, she’ll take care not to leave any windows cracked when she leaves her Franktown Road-area home.

Less than two weeks ago, a small adult black bear that was tagged for tracking years ago but never had any run-ins with people was captured in Carson City hours after a resident called police to report a bear in her living room.

That bear was eventually released in the Mount Rose area.

n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at or 881-1217.