A couple dozen phone and internet customers lost service for about 24 hours last week when a bear decided to play with a few of Alaska Power and Telephone Co.’s fiber optic boxes along Lutak Road.

“The bear is just a giant squirrel,” said Bruce Messerschmidt, AP&T’s general manager for telecom operations, based in Juneau. “If there is something to mess with, they will.”

The boxes, which contain hubs for the fiber optic line, are just a few feet tall. It appears the bear “was just walking down the road and beat them up,” digging around and under the boxes and damaging the lines, Messerschmidt said Friday.

The outage started about 1 p.m. Thursday, June 28, and repair workers had the last splice in place and service restored by about 11 a.m. Friday, June 29. The damaged boxes are about 1,200 feet apart, about a mile past the state ferry terminal, heading out of town, Messerschmidt said.

A young brown bear has been seen walking along Lutak Road in recent weeks and has gotten into at least one shed and trash pile.

It’s not the first time a bear has damaged AP&T’s fiber optic line, but it’s been 10 years since the last damage. “When we first put in the fiber out to Lutak, we had some (bear) activity out by the river, but that’s been about it,” Messerschmidt said.

The company has not been so fortunate with its phone and internet repeater boxes on the Haines Highway, past 26 Mile, he said. “We’ve actually seen those ripped off the poles.”