September 25, 2003 01:00 PM

For years David Letterman was annoyed by a female fan who stalked him at his Connecticut estate (she was eventually incarcerated), but recently a different type of intruder got into the “Late Show” host’s Montana cabin and started rummaging around Dave’s kitchen: a bear.

“I think to myself, ‘Probably the wind,’ and in Montana that’s always a pretty good bet,” Letterman, 56, told his audience earlier this week.

He said he just turned over and went back to sleep, figuring that someone was cooking him breakfast. But an hour later, he got up to see what the heck was going on.

“And there, standing in my kitchen, is the largest bear I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” he said. “I don’t know how big, but he was the hugest bear I’ve ever seen in my kitchen. … So I closed the door.”

Letterman called his friend, ranch manager Chip Kearns, who “knows everything and runs everything and is a Marine, and he’s the guy you want to call when you’ve got a bear in your kitchen.”

After chasing the bear around the house for a few hours and getting nowhere, they called in Brandon Lightner, 17, works for Letterman during the summer, his parents, Kevin and Tammie Lightner, told the Great Falls Tribune newspaper.

Lightner relied on M-80 firecrackers, which were dropped into a room where the bear was sleeping.

That got the bear out.

“If you ever are in that situation, call a high school kid,” Letterman said. “Get those M-80s and your problems are over, ladies and gentlemen.”

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