In retrospect, the bear that Samuel Bookatz saw browsing in the sculpture garden in front of his Fairfax County home Tuesday morning may not have been as huge as it first seemed.

It paled, Bookatz said yesterday, in comparison to the larger animal -- perhaps the mother of the first one -- that lumbered up to the Bookatzes' Leesburg Pike home near Tysons Corner about dusk Tuesday.

It "kept running around the house, and then it came right up to the door and tried to get in," Bookatz's wife, Susan, reported.

Bookatz, an artist, initially described Bear Number One as "huge, at least 3 feet high."

It seemed friskier, more given to playful frolic, after the sighting of Bear Number Two, which looked to Bookatz to be 5 or 6 feet tall.

The second sighting prompted calls to police and county game wardens.

Richard Amity, the county's director of animal control, said the bear was probably attracted to the house because it was hungry. "That's why they go to these houses, because they know they can get food and garbage."

Susan Bookatz confessed that when Bear II appeared at dusk, she was cooking with the door open. "Evidently it was quite pleased," she said. "My husband doesn't like my cooking as much as the bear does."

But her husband managed to save dinner. He slammed the door before the bear could enter.

At the appearance of a game warden, the animal turned tail and scampered into the woods.

The warden then tracked it to a suspected lair in a wooded section of the Bookatzes' seven-acre property.

A noninjurious trap was set.

A game warden staked out the property yesterday, but the bear did not reappear during the rainy day, which did not surprise game officials. Amity surmised that "it was probably off somewhere sleeping."

The bear, or bears, "just came east looking for food and companionship," Amity said, adding: "They're not dangerous. They are not aggressive." He said the animals probably trekked in from the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 30 miles west of Tysons; and if game officials can catch them, they will truck them right back out there.

Susan Bookatz got an enormous cow bell to use to scare away the bear, should it return.

"I use it like a piece of jewelry," she said. "I wear it everywhere I go."

"Our friends keep calling up; they think it's a big joke and I guess it is pretty funny, if you're not the one who is going to be eaten by the bear," Samuel Bookatz said