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On city's West Side, sleeping bear rouses a whole neighborhood

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 07. 2018 4:41PM
Police and wildlife officials waited for a net before trying to remove a bear from a tree in a playground near Saint Marie Church on Manchester's West Side. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
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For a gallery of photos from Monday's bear sighting, visit

MANCHESTER — Wildlife officials poked a sleeping bear Monday morning to end a nearly three-hour ordeal that began when students spotted the yearling asleep in a tree in the densely populated West Side neighborhood.

The poke was needed after the 115-pound bear, once tranquilized, fell about 10 feet from its perch in a maple tree and got hung up on a lower tree limb. New Hampshire Fish and Game biologist Pat Tate climbed a ladder to reach the sleeping bear and gave it a final push, sending it into a waiting net.

“It worked perfectly, exactly like it was supposed to,” Fish and Game conservation officer Chris McKee said.

Firefighters and police carried the bear on the net to a cage. Its next stop will be a tract of land in the Lakes Region that Fish and Game uses to relocate such animals.

“Every year, we get a couple calls of problems with bears in the city,” said McKee, who noted a bear sow and three cubs also were spotted Sunday in Concord.

Given the West Side bear’s age — about 1 1/2 years — Fish and Game officials believe its mother sent him away this spring and he had been raiding bird feeders, trash cans and dumpsters. Once the city started to come to life Monday morning, the bruin likely ducked into the daycare playground on the north side of St. Marie Church.

The playground is surrounded by a curtained chain-link fence, which the bear would have favored for its privacy, McKee said. It climbed the tree to nap, he said, and was about 25 feet up when first spotted.

“This time of year, they’re looking for an easy meal,” McKee said. 

The conservation officer estimated there could be a half-dozen bears in the city limits as berries and nuts are not out yet and ursine interlopers are foraging for whatever they can find.

Several students on their way to Holy Family Academy were the ones to see the bear, said head of school Mark Gillis. The school is part of the St. Marie campus.

“I was surprised. I’m a city boy. I don’t know where these bears come from,” he said.

Gillis was joined by dozens of other onlookers as Fish and Game conservation officers, police and firefighters set a net below the bear’s perch and tranquilized it. 

“It’s not every day you see a bear in Manchester,” said Amanda Connolly, who brought out her camera for the occasion. She speculated it came through the woods at nearby Rock Rimmon park.

“It could be depressed after the Bruins lost last night,” suggested Mike Egan.

For its part, the bear seemed oblivious to the gathered crowds, the noise of news helicopters, and even an aerial drone that buzzed by. Its interest didn’t perk up until the net was being stretched below him and then came the dart.

McKee said it took seven to eight minutes for the tranquilizer to take effect.

Public Safety Animals Manchester

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