Ryan Owen next a bear trap near his family's cottage where a bear broke through the front door to get at some food Saturday.
Credits: SUPPLIED PHOTO
WINNIPEG -- It's a frightening reminder of the consequences of letting your guard down in Manitoba's bear country. And a group of cottagers are lucky that a big food mess, along with a busted door and windows, are their only damage because of it.
Ryan Owen, his father and a few friends returned to their cottage in the Falcon Lake area Saturday after playing golf to find its kitchen virtually turned upside down by a bear that had ripped open a window screen to get inside.
"There were paw prints on the counter," Owen, 30, told QMI Agency. "It's a big mess. And kind of scary."
Their mistake, he said, was leaving a virtual smorgasbord on the counters, with only the cabin's window screens to protect the goodies.
"The windows were wide open," Owen said, adding that the bear ate bagels, chips, cinnamon rolls and even Tabasco sauce and lime juice.
"He made a huge mess. Then he broke out of a different window and ran away."
The bear, which had also broken a door, squeezed out through the window and ran off while stunned neighbours watched.
Owen said witnesses had described the black bear as "pretty much full-grown."
Conservation officers were called and arrived "really, really fast," said Owen, to set a trap for it in the busy area just off the Trans-Canada Highway.
Earl Simmons, Manitoba Conservation's eastern region supervisor, stressed that the "unpredictable" animals are nothing to mess with -- especially by leaving "attractants," such as even beer cans in a recycling box, outside as Owen and his companions had done.
"They were very fortunate that nobody was in there," Simmons said of the bear's aggressive, daylight break-in.
"When you've got an animal in a confined space, the fight-or-flight kicks in. It might have fled -- but it might not have."
These cottage-goers, Simmons said, "were spoken to and educated" about "bear-smart" practices that save food, property and sometimes even lives. Not, apparently, that they needed much convincing at that point.
"What if it was in the middle of the night, while we were sleeping?" Owen asked.
"I guess we learned a lesson. That wasn't the most intelligent thing to do in bear country."