A family of eight was left waiting for an hour for help to arrive after a black bear broke into their Manitoba cottage overnight, leaving them with a broken window.
Kat Devuone and her family were awoken at around 4:30 a.m. on Monday to the sound of glass shattering. After realizing a bear was in the house, Devuone, her sister and her parents took her two children and niece and nephew into a bedroom and barricaded the door. Devuone’s sister then called 911 for help.
Instead of receiving immediate assistance, they were sent back and forth between 911 dispatch, RCMP and, eventually, a Manitoba conservation tip line.
“(They) let us know that there was no one working, that they didn’t have anyone so nobody would be coming and that we should hang up immediately and call 911,” Devuone told CTV Winnipeg on Monday.
Manitoba RCMP eventually said they would send officers to the cottage although they weren’t sure how they’d handle the situation, calling it a “conservation issue,” Devuone recalled.
“(It is) absolutely terrifying to be told, no help is coming. And then when you know there is help on the way for them to tell you, we’re coming, but we don’t know what we’re going to do. We don’t know how we’re going to help you.”
Police showed up an hour after the family’s call when the bear had already gone. The family was found unharmed.
“RCMP were advised that Conservation would not be attending so the officer called the complainant for an update. It was reported that the bear was inside the cabin and there were several adults and children inside as well. Officers immediately began heading to the address,” RCMP Cpl. Julie Courchaine told CTV Winnipeg in an emailed statement
A spokesperson for the province said in a statement while their tip line is monitored, conservation officers aren’t on duty 24-7.
Chris Benson with Manitoba Wildlife Federation said attacks from black bears are “incredibly rare” in Manitoba, despite a healthy population of the species in the province.
He says the bear was likely in the cottage looking for food rather than humans.
“Bears are food-oriented. They are looking to store fat for the winter, and to be able to raise their young and be able to provide milk for their young,” he said on Monday.
He recommends keeping cabins and campsites clean and regularly taking the garbage out, as bears are attracted to the smell of human food.
The RCMP told Devuone to expect the bear to return to the cottage.
“He said that it sees the cottage now as a good source. It’s been rewarded by coming here. So they have set up the trap,” she said. “They also told us no one will be working tonight if it does.”
“If the bear does come into the cottage again, we will be faced with the same situation.”
With files from CTV Winnipeg
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