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Brazen black bear intruder raids pantry in B.C.’s West Kootenay

A black bear was quite happily rooting through Kyle Storie’s refrigerator when the Edgewood, B.C., resident interrupted him at 4 a.m. Storie managed to get the bear out of the house safely a few minutes later. Kyle Storie/Submitted

An Edgewood family in B.C.’s West Kootenay region was shaken but unharmed after a black bear broke into their home in the middle of the night.

Kyle Storie says he’s not sure what caused him to get up at 4 a.m. on Sept. 30. It was pitch black in their home on the outskirts of the community, and all was quiet.

“I’m a deep sleeper, and our bedroom door was closed,” he said. “We didn’t hear a thing… not even my dogs did!”

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Storie walked into his living room and saw the fridge light on in the kitchen. He took a step forward and felt the crunch of a Frosted Mini Wheat under his bare foot.

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“I’m like, ‘What the heck? Was my son having a weird midnight-eating thing?’” he thought as he casually walked into the kitchen.

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Then he stopped. A metre and a half away, a 450-pound boar black bear was looking at him.

“It was sitting there in my kitchen, with the fridge and cupboard doors wide open, just having a snack on the kitchen floor,” he said.

“He kind of lunged at me, did a fake charge, and the big wheeze and jaw click they do.”

Read more: Hello! Curious black bear surprises B.C. residents

His first thought was for his family’s safety. He moved back into his bedroom and woke his partner, Jessica.

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The two of them went out into the hallway again. While Jessica went to ensure Storie’s six-year-old son was safe and call 9-1-1, he tried to figure out what to do next.

“I have an antique double-edged axe, for decoration, so I pulled that off the wall,” he says. “I’m still in my boxer shorts and bare feet. Everything’s happening really rapidly, right?

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“I approach the bear and I smash the flat of my axe on the floor, which reverberated across the room,” recalls Storie. “I’m roaring at the bear, ‘Get out of my house, man! It’s you and me bear, and I’m prepared!’”

It was then Storie saw his cellphone on a table beside him. He grabbed it as the bear tried to find a way out of the kitchen.

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“I thought, I have to take a picture of this or no one would ever believe me,” he says.

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Storie opened both doors in his house, and after some more yelling, axe banging and ursine confusion, the bear finally found its way out.

Storie says he slammed the doors shut and just slumped to the ground, trying to process what had just happened.

“I just kind of had a moment. I’m not the kind of guy who is easily shaken at all, I’ve never been scared of anything my whole life,” he told the Valley Voice. “But the thought of my son could have woken up to have a pee, and could have encountered a bear – that just flashed into my head. I got so mad.”

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But with the family safe, Storie was able to look around and figure out what happened. The bear had come up to the kitchen window, and pulled the simple wood-framed glass pane out of the wall and threw it outside.

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“So the majority of the noise from the broken glass would have been outside the house,” speculates Storie. “And then he climbed right in, across our kitchen table.

“I figure he was in our house for at least a half an hour before I woke up.”

Read more: More Manitobans reporting run-ins with bears this season

After cleaning up the mess, Storie decided to take some precautions.

“I’m from Prince George, so I know how to make spike boards for windowsills,” he says. “I nailed them to the kitchen window and the window he broke into the night before.”

It was a good thing he did. Because the next night, the bear was back.

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“He checked out windows and pricked his paws on the spike board, before he went for the baited trap the COs had left earlier in the day,” says Storie. “He was like, ‘Nah, there’s some really good stuff inside there, and if that doesn’t work out I’ll save it for my way out.’”

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The bear was caught that night, taken away and destroyed by the COs. It had become too acclimated to humans.

Storie says bears are common in the area, but even more so lately as forest fires south of the community have driven the animals into new territory looking for food.

“We’ve seen 15-20 different bears in the area in the last month, including a young grizzly,” he says. “It’s like the wildfires drove them all north, probably came up the valley way.”

And if you should find a bear in your house in the middle of the night, Storie has some advice drawn from experience.

“Give them an exit point, as many options as you can for exit, and then get really loud, assertive and abrasive,” he says. “I wanted him to know he wasn’t welcome.”

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