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

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 Vancouver Island woman’s Christmas cookies

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

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

(Black Press Media file photo)
VicPD arrest man at gunpoint after firearm call

Man faces charges for breaching condition not to possess replica firearms

Jerry Dyck plans to purchase a new RV to drive across Canada in, once it’s safe to travel again. (Courtesy BCLC)
Victoria man plans post-pandemic cross-Canada RV trip after $2M lottery win

Retired electrician bought the winning ticket in Duncan

Learning tools from the Garth Homer Society’s LifeStreams program have gone online. (Facebook/Garth Homer Society)
Online platform launched for Greater Victoria adults with developmental disabilities

Platform includes programs, events, activities and COVID-19 resources

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Second doses delayed as B.C. vaccine delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

Most Read