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Taste of freedom was short lived for relocated Hanover bear

  • A map of the state detailing the bears’ movement.



Valley News
Thursday, November 02, 2017

One of the three juvenile bears that raided trash cans and even entered a Hanover home under the watchful eye of their mother was shot and killed within weeks of being relocated to northern New Hampshire last spring, wildlife officials said.

New Hampshire Fish and Game Bear Project Leader Andrew Timmins said he received confirmation on Wednesday that the yearling was lawfully shot and killed on June 16 by a hunter in Quebec, 18 days after the bears were captured and brought to Pittsburg, N.H.

Quebec has both a spring and fall bear hunting season.

“It was rumored that one was taken, but it took forever to get confirmation,” Timmins said. “There have been no reports at all on the other two yearlings that were translocated.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean they are alive and well.

“People sometimes take action on their own and don’t report the activity,” he said. “This would be even more likely given the publicity this family of bears generated.”

The bear family became a hot topic after a series of sightings in Hanover and Lebanon, followed by a break-in by two of the young bears at a Thompson Terrace house. Several children were in the home at the time, but nobody was injured.

Bear officials concluded that the bears were habituated to humans and the most practical option was to euthanize them

But those officials, including Timmins, reversed course after Gov. Chris Sununu intervened, following a public outcry, and pushed for the bears to be relocated.

That decision was met with frustration from biologists and Hanover town officials, but praise from other animal lovers.

The three cubs were caught in Hanover over Memorial Day weekend and released in Pittsburg on Memorial Day.

The hunter shot the yearling on June 16 in Stornoway, Quebec, about 33 miles from the release site, Timmins said.

It currently is bear season in northern New England, and licensed individuals can lawfully hunt bears in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, as well as Canada.

The fact that the two remaining yearlings, which are tagged, haven’t gotten into any trouble – that Timmins knows of – comes as a surprise.

“Admittedly, that was one of our concerns,” he said. “Maybe it means that it never happened and they have done well. I certainly hope they have.”

Officials never captured the sow, but believe she likely will bring future cubs, should she have them, back to the Hanover neighborhood near Mink Brook.

“After the family broke up ... her behavior changed considerably,” Timmins said. “This is typical of females who kick yearlings away and then start breeding. She was seen in Hanover once or twice during late summer/early fall, but nothing consistent.”

Timmins believes the sow is now pregnant and in her den, where she would stay and give birth in the winter. When she leaves her den in March or April, he said, she likely would return to her old stomping grounds to raise her cubs.

He said he has high hopes that the people in the communities she frequents will take proper precautions to prevent future bears from becoming habituated. He is less confident that everyone in Hanover and the surrounding towns will follow suit.

“You don’t have to drive down Route 120 very far before you begin seeing open dumpsters and other human-related attractants,” he said. “If residents in her core area remain vigilant (at securing attractants), the sow will likely move to adjacent areas where similar attracts are available. We will have to see.”

Hanover officials have made it a priority to educate residents and landlords about securing trash and removing other food that attracted the bears, Town Manager Julia Griffin said.

“We are continuing to monitor the situation with the sow and (are) working with local commercial and multifamily residential unit owners to replace traditional dumpsters with bear-proof dumpsters,” Griffin said. “Come next March, we will see what happens with the sow. Ideally, we would love to see her relocated before her next litter of cubs becomes habituated, but we must also continue to press folks on the issues of bird feeders and trash management.”

If the sow sets back into her old ways, Timmins said, officials likely will have to trap and relocate her and her cubs.

“What we don’t want is her to raise another set of human-habituated cubs,” he said. “We prefer she (raises them) in a more wild setting and not in a residential backyard.”



 
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