Bear snatches cake, Manitoba family's sense of safety at Lester Beach cabin

A family at Lester Beach made a scary discovery early Monday morning when they realized a black bear was roaming their cabin.

Kat Devuono said it took an hour for RCMP to arrive after conservation office said no one was on duty

A woman in a pink T-shirt looks concerned.
Kat Devuono says her family is shaken after a bear broke into their cabin overnight. (Travis Golby/CBC)

A family at Lester Beach made a scary discovery early Monday morning when they realized a black bear was roaming their cabin.

Kat Devuono said she jumped out of bed to the sound of glass shattering around 4 a.m. at the cottage in the Lake Winnipeg resort community, which is about 90 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

Devuono said she, her mother, her sister and their seven kids aged five to 17 had all been sleeping in a newer section of the cabin — and the only thing separating them from the bear was a screen door closed by a small latch.

They got to work barricading that door, then moved the kids into a bedroom which they also barricaded, she said.

Devuono said her family then watched as the bear made its way from room to room, helping itself to bags of Doritos, granola bars and Danish pastries.

WATCH | Black bear breaks into Lester Beach cabin:

Black bear breaks into cabin, eats cake

8 months ago
Duration 2:48
A family at Lester Beach made a scary discovery early Monday morning when they realized a black bear was roaming their cabin.

Her daughter Jubilee said the whole ordeal was "really freaky." And when she and her family finally emerged from the bedroom, she couldn't believe what she saw.

"My favourite cake, chocolate cake, we found on the ground. All eaten," the eight-year-old said.

A girl in a pink T-shirt and white overalls looks serious as she tells a story.
Eight-year-old Jubilee was not happy the bear helped itself to her favourite chocolate cake. (Travis Golby/CBC)

"And it was just like, 'Oh, my gosh, how did this happen?'"

Devuono said her sister called 911 immediately after they noticed the intruder. But it took a long time before anyone would show up to help them.

First, she was redirected to RCMP, then to the province's conservation department. There, Devuono said someone told her sister there was no one on duty to respond until morning — so their best bet was to try 911 again.

"You never imagine you're going to be in that situation with a bear right there and all your kids and your family, you know, just with a small barrier between you," she said.

A pile of chairs and stools barricaded against a door.
Kat Devuono said her family barricaded the door separating them from the bear. (Submitted by Kat Devuono)

"But we knew true terror when we found out that somebody was just going to say, 'You know, no, there's nobody right now. Just let us know how it went in the morning.' That was absolutely terrifying."

When they did call 911 again, they were patched through to RCMP, who hit the road from the detachment in Selkirk, about 55 kilometres away.

"It took them about an hour to get here and they even contacted us on the way to let us know that they did not know what they were going to do when they got here," Devuono said.

"They did not feel prepared to take care of a bear, and it was looking like our options were quite limited on what was going to happen."

By then, the bear had already been inside for about an hour. Devuono said as her family waited for police to arrive from so far away, they knew the situation could worsen at any time — especially with their keys stuck in the same room as the bear, leaving them trapped.

Thankfully, she said, the bear left the cottage about five minutes before police arrived.

Responders set bear trap

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Julie Courchaine said Mounties got a call about the bear in the cabin on Ridge Road around 4:30 a.m. 

When they were advised no one from conservation would be going, RCMP called the family for an update and began heading to the cottage, where they arrived around 5:30 a.m., Courchaine said in an email.

Officers searched the property but didn't find the bear, Courchaine said.

A provincial spokesperson said while its Turn In Poachers line — a number also shared for forest fires, or to report aggressive, sick or injured wildlife — is monitored, conservation officers aren't on duty 24/7 across Manitoba. 

Workers at the call centre relay messages to the appropriate staff, but there wouldn't have been anyone on duty so late at night — making calling 911 the best course of action for such an urgent situation, the spokesperson said in an email.

Conservation officers were at the cabin at 8 a.m. Monday to set a bear trap in the area and provide information about reducing attractants by removing bird feeders, cleaning barbecues after use and tightly securing any food sources, the spokesperson said.

A damaged window on a cabin, with a red barrel-shaped bar trap in the background.
Devuono said a bear damaged the window on this cabin while her family was inside early Monday morning. Conservation officers later set a bear trap nearby. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Devuono said she was impressed with the work conservation officers did once they arrived hours later — but the incident has left her family shaken.

With the bear still out there — and from what conservation officers told her, now seeing her cabin as a food source — Devuono hopes that when it's likely drawn back to the area it finds its way into the trap instead of her cottage.

Seven children sit and talk together.
Kat Devuono's children and her sister's kids — all ages five to 17 — sit together at the cabin after the bear scare the night before. (Travis Golby/CBC)

"It's a completely surreal feeling. It still kind of feels like a bad, crazy dream," she said.

"You wouldn't expect a bear in the house. You wouldn't expect the no response. And now, to have a giant bear trap as we wait for the bear to return and be told that the bear will return — yeah. No words."

With files from Stephanie Cram


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