By Jenn Watt
Jeannie Glover woke up on a Tuesday morning earlier this month to the sound of someone rummaging through her bathroom. It sounded like someone was aggressively cleaning out a linen closet, but it was 6:15 a.m., her husband was away, and she didn’t think the guests in her cottage would be up that early.
She raised her head and looked toward her ensuite bathroom to see a black bear coming out.
“It was coming out of my bathroom and just [passed] right beside me on the bed and then went right out the screen door that he came in,” said Glover, whose cottage is on Drag Lake.
The encounter on Aug. 11 was probably only a few seconds, but it was enough to get her heart pounding.
“He just kind of glanced over and saw me and … there wasn’t time to do anything,” she said.
Luckily, the bear was content to continue on its way out of the cottage without incident.
“Even when he saw me, he didn’t run. He just walked out the door and he went across the deck, leaped up on the railing and then just jumped down into the forest and then he ran up … and he just sat on a rock up there and kind of looked around for a few minutes and then trotted off. He wasn’t scared,” she said.
Glover had the door between her bedroom and the rest of the cottage closed, so the bear didn’t have the opportunity to explore any further.
“If that [door] had been open, he would have definitely made his way out to the kitchen, I’m sure,” she said.
The bear was about the size of a big pig, with its back taller than the height of the bed.
Other bear issues have been reported in the Drag Lake area this summer, with more than 10 car break-ins being attributed to a bear in the area around Dudley and Kennaway roads.
Glover believes this may be the same bear and said the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry had staff set up a trap on the property for a few days, but only seemed to get raccoons to show any interest in the bait.
The family did not have food left outside and although MNRF staff said the bear could have been interested in the smells of the toothpaste or perfumed toiletries in the bathroom, Glover said those things were undisturbed.
“There was nothing in my bathroom that was even askew,” she said. “The bathmat wasn’t out of position, the hamper wasn’t gone through, the towels weren’t touched. Nothing. … He was a very tidy bear.”
The Glovers have since made changes to the bedroom door to the deck, but since the bear didn’t find anything to eat at their place, they’re not expecting a return visit.
In an email to the Echo, a spokesperson for the MRNF said the ministry had been in touch with the OPP regarding the situation, and had provided lake associations with information on ways to prevent visits from bears.
“The ministry has been in regular communications with the Haliburton Highlands OPP to be responsive to the situation,” reads the email from Jolanta Kowalski, senior media relations officer for the ministry. “On Aug. 12, the ministry provided information through lake association networks to raise awareness about how to prevent bear encounters and who to call in the event of a bear encounter. We have not received any reports of bear activity in this area since Aug. 11. We will continue to monitor bear activity and reports from the public.”
Removing attractants such as garbage from a premises is key in preventing bear encounters.
“The most important step in minimizing human-bear enounters is to remove any items that could attract bears to a property or neighbourhood,” Kowalski wrote. “Bears are attracted to garbage, bird food (including suet, seed and nectar), odours from barbecues and ripe fruit left on trees or the ground. You can prevent bears from visiting your home or neighbourhood by storing garbage in waste containers with tight-fitting lids in a bear-proof location, putting garbage out the morning of pickup, removing bird feeders in the spring, keeping pet foods indoors, keeping barbecue grills and drip pans clean.”
Kowalski added it was difficult for the ministry to determine if the bear was the same bear who was breaking into cars in the nearby Kennaway Road area in late June.