| Jul 21, 2005

Feature article, July 21, 2005

Feature article July 21, 2005

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Bear invates Watsons Corners house

by Tom ShoebridgeReprinted from the The Lanark Era with permission of the author

On the only night that a bear decides to invade our house, Im not there to do anything.

On a recent weekend, my wife Gloria was hosting an art workshop for three women, who were sleeping over. I was in Ottawa helping install a patio for my daughter and family, and staying overnight to get an early start the next day.

At about 2:00 am, Gloria heard a crashing noise in our kitchen. As our bedroom is on the same floor, she called out as she expected that one of the women had come up from downstairs where they were all sleeping.

Gloria received no reply. Another crash. She called out again and then heard some noises in our sunroom at the end of the house. It sounded like someone was knocking over heavy pieces of furniture. She put on her nightcoat and glasses and went cautiously down the hall to peer into the sunroom.


There against the light of the large windows, Gloria saw a large dark shape on the back of a couch. It looked just like a human werewolf, she recalled later.

From the relative safety of the corner of the hall, she momentarily turned on a light to determine exactly what was there. Bouncing from one couch to another, wildly batting against the picture windows was a huge black bear. She estimated that, on its hind legs, it stood about six feet tall with a huge head.

In a split-second decision, Gloria decided that she had to create an escape route for the bear. She thought about the three women downstairs who could come up at any time into a very dangerous situation. Also, she realized she had to do something before our golden retriever dog became involved and made the situation worse.

While the bear was preoccupied by trying to escape from the west end of the room, she quickly crossed into the room and opened the door on the east end and turned on the light in the porch. As the room is quite long, she had some space to cross to the door. She also thought that she opened the porch door to the outside, but later wasnt sure.

She beat a hasty retreat to the safety of the bathroom door and waited for the bear to discover the lit exit. A few moments later, the bear took off through the porch door. Gloria then followed him and locked the door.

Unfortunately, her ordeal wasnt finished. Somehow, the outside porch door became closed and the bear was then locked in our 12 x 12 ft porch.

Gloria then phoned our neighbours, Michael and Marilyn Barnett, who bravely agreed to come over to help. She also checked for our cat and dog, who sleep on the main floor with us. The cat was no-where to be seen (later found terrified under the floor boards). The dog our watch dog - was fast asleep on his mat! She then locked him in the bathroom for his own safety.

Gloria then heard horrific noises from the porch and went back to check on the bear. As the light was on, she could see the bear was frantically trying to get out, ricocheting around the small space, tearing off window sills, wrenching pieces out of the door and leaving claw marks 10 feet high on one wall.

Gloria then made another calculated decision. Waiting until the bear was focused on scratching a hole in the floor of the porch behind a large shelving unit about five feet away, she cautiously opened the door into the porch, took one step in, opened the door to the outside, stepped back into the house and quickly slammed the house door shut.

The bear, hearing the noise, calmly looked up, saw the open door and quickly left the porch. Never to be seen again (we hope).

Then Gloria allowed the adrenalin to flow and to begin to shake. A ten-minute danger had seemed like an eternity.

After some wee drams of sherry with Michael and Marilyn, and later tea with one of the women who heard the voices upstairs, Gloria Davey Crockett Shoebridge went to bed at 5:30 am.

We later determined that the bear had not touched our garbage, barbeque or compost heap, the usual attractions for bears. For some unknown reason, it had broken into out screened-in porch and come through an open kitchen window. It had picked up a bag of apples on the kitchen counter, but then dropped them when Gloria spoke.

Gloria contacted the police and wildlife service people (Bear hot line 1-866-514-2327) in case the bear was a nuisance bear, one that wasnt afraid to approach human dwellings. To date, there have been no further sightings.

Meanwhile, I had a very peaceful sleep in Ottawa.

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