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

Ladysmith's Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 29 responded to the fire. (Gerry Beltgens photo)
Boat catches fire in Ladysmith Harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Wayne Allen's graduation photo from Chemainus Secondary School. (Photo submitted)
Brother charged with murder in Chemainus teenager’s Ontario death

Jesse James Allen stands accused in the death of Wayne Allen, a 2020 Chemainus Secondary grad

Pamela Anderson was given a Ladysmith Heritage Award for the restoration work on the Arcady Auto Court property that she purchased from her grandparents. (Pamela Anderson photo)
PHOTOS: Star-studded Ladysmith Heritage Awards honour local commitments to heritage

Barrie McDonald, Pamela Anderson, John & Luke Marston, and the Ladysmith Maritime Society recognized

Kim McGregor died in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run accident in Chemainus. (Photo submitted)
Victim identified in Valentine’s Day Chemainus hit-and-run

Kim McGregor grew up in Chemainus and had recently returned to be close to his parents

Ella Donovan with mom Tina outside Fuller Lake Arena before heading onto the ice for practice. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Young Ladysmith skater watches and waits in battle against cancer

Ella Donovan’s tumour began a tumultuous time, but community support eased the burden

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

A crossover utility vehicle smashed through the front of a business on Bowen Road on Friday evening. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Vehicle smashes all the way inside business in Nanaimo

No serious injuries reported after incident at Venue Financial Centres on Friday

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Most Read