A brazen black bear and her two cubs broke into a Nanaimo home over the weekend, helping themselves to a bowl of fruit, granola, some pet food, cocoa powder and salted caramel syrup.
They all squeezed through a dog door at Michael and Jacqueline Kellam’s rural Meadow Drive home and generally made a giant mess while the couple hid on the sidelines after calling the police in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The next night, the bears were back for more, breaking into five vehicles in the neighbourhood and chewing up some boxes in the back of Michael Kellam’s SUV.
“We’re used to seeing bears here and I’ve broken a lot of wooden spoons banging on pots to scare them away,” said Kellam, a Nanaimo optometrist. “But we’ve never had anything like this.”
Conservation officers concerned about the black bear family’s behaviour moved a second barrel trap into the Nanaimo neighbourhood on Monday, baiting the traps with molasses and honey.
It began about 3:45 a.m. Saturday when the couple was abruptly awakened after their eight-year-old poodle cross Mollie started “barking like she’s never barked before,” said Kellam.
Jacqueline Kellam got out of bed to investigate, saw a bear cub in front of her, three feet away, and screamed “bear.” Her husband pulled her back in the bedroom, slammed the door and called 911.
After a few moments of silence, Michael Kellam went into the hall, turned on all the lights and started banging the walls.
He realized the mama bear was in the house when he heard “some loud snuffling noises coming from the hallway,” so he beelined it back to the bedroom.
“Times sort of slows down and it seemed like forever … it had snowed a lot that night and we live in a steep area and I was thinking the police aren’t going to get here,” said Kellam.
He again crept down the hallway, turned the corner and saw the door was closed, but the pet door — measuring nine inches wide and 16 inches deep — had been chewed and ripped off.
Somehow, the mama bear managed to get through the small opening, first helping one of her cubs through, then the next before pushing herself in with what would have been a great effort.
Kellam said the smallest cub was in the house for about an hour, while the mother and other cub were inside for about 35 minutes before making their escape just before police arrived.
The bear break-in was captured on the couple’s home security system, which showed the mother bear holding the flap of the pet door open, Kellam said. “The bear cub put its head through and the mom pushed it through.”
Paw prints were left in the sticky syrup the bears tracked around the kitchen, hall and on the living room sofa, cupboards were swinging open, a wine rack was tipped over and bags and food were strewn about the place. “We had some cleaning up to do,” said Kellam.
The next day, in the early morning hours of Sunday, Kellam woke up to see a vehicle door open in the driveway.
“I looked out the window and saw a car door open and I thought we had an intruder,” said Kellam. “I thought, ‘Oh great — first bears, now an intruder.’ ”
He went outside to investigate and found nothing stolen. Snow, however, had been tracked inside the vehicle. His wife had left change in the car that was untouched, but Kellam’s sunglasses were chewed up. A neighbour said his car doors were also open and a $5 bill on the dash was still there.
All of the vehicles were unlocked and the bears were smart enough to open them, said Kellam. “Obviously the bears had come back. … They can break into houses and cars now.”
After checking the security video again, the Kellams found mama bear and the cubs had returned to try to break in again. However, Kellam had bolted a heavy plywood covering to the dog door and bevelled the edges so the bears couldn’t claw it off.
“We’ve been here 13 years and we see a lot of black bears,” he said. “They are the kings of the forest around here.”
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