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'Left syrup paw prints': Bears break into Nanaimo home, raid pantry while homeowners inside

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A Nanaimo, B.C., couple has quite the story to tell after a mother bear and two cubs broke into their home and raided their kitchen last week.

A home surveillance camera recorded the bears entering the home along Meadow Drive through a pet door in the early hours of Friday morning, around 3:45 a.m.

Michael Kellam tells CTV News that he and his wife woke up to the sound of their dog, Mollie, barking wildly in a way that they had never heard before.

Kellam's wife, Jacqueline Kellan, sprung from their bed and opened their bedroom door, followed shortly by Michael.

Jacqueline was about a metre into the hallway when Michael heard his wife say "bear."

"I have an image of that bear seared into my memory as she looked back at us in the light spilling out from the bedroom lights, which Jacqueline had flicked on," he told CTV News on Tuesday.

The couple quickly ran back to their bedroom, shut the door and called 911.

MIDNIGHT SNACK

Michael says the mother bear stayed inside the house for about 10 minutes, while one cub stayed for about 30 minutes and the other cub stayed for about an hour.

The bears devoured nearly all of the apples and oranges kept inside the kitchen, and nibbled on some of the pet food meant for the couple's dog and two cats.

Homeowner Michael Kellam says the house was in worse shape directly after the feast, and that these photos were taken after a bit of cleanup had already taken place. (Michael Kellam)Michael says the bears also got into a bottle of caramel syrup which had fallen on its side and leaked all over the kitchen floor.

"They licked up quite a bit but then walked through the puddle and left syrup paw prints about the kitchen and back hall," he said.

While the house was left in a mess, Michael says there was very little damage done to the home, except for the pet door that the bears had come in through.

The homeowner says the bears had broken the pet door open to fit inside.

"Miraculously, the cupboard doors aren't scratched or damaged," said Michael. "Not sure how they managed to open everything so carefully but my wife says they were quite polite."

SEARCHING THE HOME

While waiting inside his bedroom for police to arrive, Michael thought it would be best to get the bears to leave the house if possible.

He began searching the home cautiously while clapping his hands and banging against the wall to alert the bears of his position, while also yelling at the mother bear to "find its own home."

As he approached the kitchen he heard some noise coming from another hallway and retreated back to his bedroom. After several minutes, he began the search again, this time hearing nothing in the house.

He approached his kitchen expecting the door to be open, assuming that the bears got inside because someone had forgotten to lock the door.

However, he found that the pet door had been burst open, with food strewn about the kitchen.

Homeowner Michael Kellam says the house was in worse shape directly after the feast, and that these photos were taken after a bit of cleanup had already taken place. (Michael Kellam)Shortly after, a police officer arrived carrying a large rifle. He searched the home and confirmed there were no animals inside and informed Michael that he thought he had heard some noise coming from a slope beside the house.

The bears weren't found that night and conservation officers were alerted of the incident.

CONSERVATION OFFICERS ON THE CASE

One day later, the bears returned and were spotted meandering about the Kellams' yard.

The BC Conservation Officers Service says it has set up traps in the area, and that the bears have also broken into several cars in the neighbourhood.

The bears are pictured at the Kellam house just north of Nanaimo, B.C. (Michael Kellam)

"I will say, everyone has been excellent from the police dispatcher, the responding officer and the conservation officer that we've had the most interaction with," said Michael.

The BCCOS is encouraging everyone to lock up all animal attractants for the time being, such as garbage, pet food and bird seed.

Anyone who spots a bear is asked to call the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1-877-952-7277.

"Bears that enter occupied homes and obtain food rewards are an extreme public safety risk," said the BCCOS in a statement.

For now, the Kellams have boarded up the broken pet door and are looking to buy a new door that doesn't include a pet door at all. 

The now-boarded up pet door is shown. (Michael Kellam)

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