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Fish and Game reverses its position; bears won't be killed

By MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent

May 27. 2017 1:06AM
This photo is taken from an online petition on change.org that seeks to save a family of bears that has become a safety concern in Hanover. (JED WILLIAMSON)

HANVOER — The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has reversed its decision to euthanize a family of black bears that have become too bold around people in a downtown neighborhood.

“Things have changed. We are going to capture and relocate those bears,” Fish and Game’s lead bear biologist, Andrew Timmins, said Friday.

Timmins said Thursday an online petition to save the bears would not change the decision since it was based on department policy that calls to euthanize bears that enter homes.

The mama bear and her three yearlings have been frequenting a downtown neighborhood since at least last summer. Over the weekend, two yearlings in the family pushed through a screen door of a home and entered looking for food, Timmins said.

On Thursday afternoon Gov. Chris Sununu said he opposed the Fish and Game Department’s plan to capture and euthanize the mother bear and her three cubs.

On Friday, Timmins would only say the decision was changed and did not elaborating on why.

“There’s been a change in the decision, so yeah, we are deviating from that policy,” he said.

The bears will be captured and relocated to an undisclosed location, he said.

Living in captivity is not an option, he said, though some black bears live in captivity at Clark’s Trading Post and the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center.

“It really isn’t an option. I would not be supportive of taking a bear who was born in the wild and putting it in captivity,” he said.

Timmins said the bear family is close to breaking up because of the pending breeding season.

“We’re getting to the point where she is going to drive those yearlings off because she’s getting ready to breed,” he said.

It’s very unlikely the young bears would just return to the woods when she drives them off when they have been raised to associate humans with food, he said.

“Yesterday, the bears were very active at a housing facility, ripping through a dumpster last night,” Timmins said.

The bears are usually active between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

But they have also been known to surface at any time and place in the neighborhood.

Starting Friday night, individual bear traps were set in the neighborhood, Timmins said. When the bear pulls on the bait, usually donuts, it will trigger a trap door to shut, he said.

This week, Fish and Game attempted to capture the entire family in one trap. Individual traps will be used over the weekend.

mpierce@newstote.com


Public Safety Animals General News Hanover State Government


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