Video by Unalaska Community Broadcasting’s Pipa Escalante.
Alaska Ship Supply had an unwelcome customer for about three hours Wednesday night — a bald eagle, which flew in a loading door around 6 p.m. and refused to leave.
The juvenile bird flapped around the store for about three hours before state troopers and employees were able to get it out.
Toopers and local public safety officers tried to scare the eagle down with noise. They clapped their hands and fired loud bursts of air at the eagle with a small air cannon.
But the bird didn’t seem to care.
It knocked cans of spray paint off shelves, unhooked some aisle signs and startled employees and customers. The store was open for business at the time, so they were all grouped by the front entrance.
The eagle wreaked the most havoc in Ship Supply’s liquor section. At one point, it fell from the rafters and smashed up some shelves of wine, as this employee found after the bird had flown away again:
Employee: “Here! Oh … the expensive one.”
State trooper Tom Lowy says the bird did about $400 in damage in total.
By hour three of the eagle’s shopping trip, Lowy was wondering if it might not want to leave the brightly lit store for the nighttime darkness outside. So Lowy hatched a plan.
Lowy: “We darkened as much of the store as we could, and then we left an area like a runway of lights. So the theory was that the birds don’t like the darkness, so he’d stay with the lights, and the light was going toward this back door by the auto parts.”
The one lit-up aisle was enough to guide the bird near the door.
Then, automotive employee Alex Mendigorin was able to capture it.
Mendigorin: “I’m here — and then the bird, it’s on the pipe, and then it just drops here. And I grab the net — then I grab it. [laughing] That one is hard! It’s too big!”
With the eagle in the net, the troopers were able to get it outside, where it flew away.
Trooper Lowy says this is the first time they’ve dealt with an eagle in a department store in Unalaska. But the birds have flown in warehouse doors at the post office before.
He says stores should try to keep large loading doors shut when they’re not using them — or risk inviting unwelcome feathered shoppers.