A Nanaimo woman is lucky to still have her Christmas cookies after two bear cubs wandered onto her property and tried to take them from her outdoor freezer Dec. 18. PHOTO SUBMITTED

Bear cubs try to take Nanaimo woman’s Christmas cookies

Incident happened in the early-morning hours today, Dec. 18, in Chase River

A Nanaimo woman is lucky to still have her Christmas cookies after two bear cubs wandered onto her property and tried to take them from her outdoor freezer.

Siobhan MacPhail told the News Bulletin that she couldn’t sleep and was watching television at around 3 a.m. Tuesday when she heard noises coming from outside of her home on Centennary Drive in Chase River. When she looked outside her window, she discovered two black bear cubs.

“As soon as I opened the door one of them looked right up at me,” she said. “One of them actually came up on the deck. It stood up on its back feet and as I looked out the window it looked right at me.”

MacPhail said when she went to retrieve her cellphone, she heard her freezer – located outside on her porch – being opened.

“I thought somebody was out there and then I realized it was the bear. One of the bears opened the freezer and there are actually paw prints in the freezer,” she said.

She said the bears were able to knock two tins full of Christmas cookies out of the freezer, but didn’t eat them, as MacPhail banged on her window in an attempt to get the hungry cubs to leave.

“I think I startled them enough because I was shaking my front door and pounding on the windows because I didn’t want them to take my food,” she said.

The cubs were on the property for around 10 to 15 minutes according to MacPhail, who said it was a frightening experience.

“I was terrified,” she said. “I was shaking.”

MacPhail has since reported the encounter to provincial conservation officers and has installed a lock on her freezer and stored her garbage and compost inside a locked shed.

Stuart Bates with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, said while he hasn’t seen MacPhail’s photos, the conversation office is aware of a mother bear and two cubs that wander around the Chase River area.

“We keep trying to tell people to put their garbage away,” he said.

Vancouver Island has a population of roughly 10,000 to 15,000 black bears, according to Bates. He said people need to understand that bears are much closer to them than they might think.

“They are not far. They are never that far away, “ he said. “We get bear calls on Vancouver Island year-round.”

According to Bates, his office has received nine reports of bear sightings in the Chase River area this month, compared to four they received for the area last December.

“It’s a little busier than normal,” he said.

Although bears typically hibernate at this time of year, Bates said there is a common misconception about why they hibernate in the first place.

“People need to understand, bears don’t hibernate because of a time of year and they don’t hibernate because of a temperature, they hibernate because of a lack of food. As long as there is food, why would they hibernate?” he asked.

Bates said mother bears will typically abandon their offspring when they turn two. He said when cubs that are under the age of two get larger than normal, they can sometimes wander farther away from their mother. Bates also said younger bears, particularly males, want to eat as much as they can in the winter because when spring rolls around, females will find them more attractive.

B.C. residents are required by law to ensure their garbage, compost and other food waste is properly secured and stored. Bates said conservation officers, including himself, have gone door-to-door and held community meetings in the Chase River area informing people about their responsibilities but people aren’t getting the message.

“I’ve done two community meetings,” he said. “They will not be getting any more advice. They will be getting $230 tickets for failing to secure their attractants.”

Bates said as long as people to continue to leave food outside, the bears will return.

“Once the food is cut off, the mom and two cubs will go off and hibernate,” he said.



nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Uplands Park Elementary parents say schools not appropriate voting stations

Elections B.C. says site of polling stations not yet determined, working with Dr. Henry’s office

Nanaimo RCMP remind drivers not to text after 19 tickets handed out in 90 minutes

The $368 fines were handed out Tuesday on Norwell Drive and Old Island Highway

Nanaimo RCMP seize firearms, ID, portable debit machine as ‘prolific offender’ arrested

Austin Carlson-McPherson, 24, accused of crimes in Nanaimo, Duncan, Port Renfrew and Sooke

Snuneymuxw artist brings aquatic designs to Nanaimo’s Beban Park pool

Work by artist Eliot White-Hill is being installed at the pool this month

Event was virtual, recognition was real at Nanaimo Business Awards

Online event praised Nanaimo businesses and organizations for excellence in 21 award categories

Beefs & Bouquets, Sept. 23

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Island Corridor Foundation launches survey on importance of Vancouver Island rail

“ICF remains 100 per cent committed to the restoration of full rail service on Vancouver Island”

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Three years for serial bank robber who hit southern Vancouver Island branch

Lucas Bradwell was wanted for robberies in Abbotsford, Sidney and Vancouver

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

Most Read