A family on a day trip at Whiteshell Provincial Park says they got closer to nature than intended when a black bear snatched their spaghetti lunches.

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A family on a day trip at Whiteshell Provincial Park says they got closer to nature than intended when a black bear snatched their spaghetti lunches.

When Michal Schaap Fogler packed a picnic for a family boating trip July 15, she kept her children's picky tastes in mind. The mom of three said she never considered a bear — let alone anyone else — would have a hankering for plain spaghetti.

But soon after they picked a rock on the shoreline to eat lunch on — before her husband had even finished docking their inflatable raft — she said a bear snuck up on her nine-year-old daughter, Lilach.

"I told my kids, 'Don’t panic, but we have to go now.' (Lilach) couldn’t hear me because the bear was so close to her; she heard the bear 'grrr' into her ear. She turned around, screamed in its face and the girls both ran to the boat. I picked up my son and ran," Schaap Fogler said Wednesday.

In retrospect, she said she wishes they had stayed in the boat to eat, and advises other outdoor adventurers to do so going forward.

"I was like, ‘Is this a movie? Is this real?’" she said, adding they left all their food behind, and immediately headed toward the tunnel that connects South Cross Lake and Caddy Lake, where they were camping.

Schaap Fogler said she's happy no one was harmed. Her four-year-old son, however, was peeved about his lunch.

There have been two other reported incidents where bears have attacked people in Whiteshell Provincial Park this month. (Gerald Herbert / The Associated Press Files)

There have been two other reported incidents where bears have attacked people in Whiteshell Provincial Park this month. (Gerald Herbert / The Associated Press Files)

"All my son cared about, as we were paddling away from the shore, was his spaghetti. He actually wanted us to go back and take it back from the bear."

There have been two reported incidents where bears have attacked people in the Manitoba provincial park so far this month, a number a bear safety expert with the province told the Free Press is an anomaly. A man on the Mantario Hiking Trail and an eight-year-old girl camping on South Cross Lake suffered minor injuries in separate encounters.

Schaap Fogler said she thinks the bear her family encountered, a medium-sized black bear, is the same one that swiped at the young camper's tent last weekend. (A provincial spokesperson said conservation officers are still searching for the bear involved in that attack.)

Kim Titchener, the founder of Canmore, Alta.-based Bear Safety and More, said the fact that particular bear is still roaming around is serious.

Research shows that when bears get into human food, it can lead to predatory behaviour, Titchener said.

"They start associating people with food," she said, adding it's critical families clean up after themselves in the wilderness; the bear that approached Schaap Fogler's family could have smelled lingering scents.

Schaap Fogler said she's worried what could happen next; the bear could take something more serious than spaghetti.

"Conservation officers should definitely make every effort to find that bear," she said.

maggie.macintosh@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @macintoshmaggie

Maggie Macintosh

Maggie Macintosh
Reporter

Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.

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