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Tamworth farmer shoots, kills three bear cubs that were eating his chickens, say authorities

Union Leader Correspondent

September 22. 2018 9:31PM
A bear cub climbs a tree in this 2016 Lakes Region file photo. Andy Timmons, a bear biologist with the state Fish & Game, said the Tamworth incident is part of larger problem. Poor berry and nut crops has bears raiding farms for food. (JOHN KOZIOL)

TAMWORTH - A local farmer shot three bear cubs and had planned to kill their mother as well after they were caught in the act of eating his chickens, authorities report.

Under state law, wild animals caught doing "actual and substantial damage," can be destroyed.

Andy Timmons, a bear biologist with the state Fish & Game, said the incident is part of larger problem. As a result of a poor berry and nut crops, bears are on the hunt for food and are finding their way into farmers' fields to eat corn, orchards to eat apples and in some cases coops to dine on chickens.

"The bears are desperate," Timmons said. The farmer was not identified.

In an effort to ward off the use of lethal force, the department loans out electric fence chargers and fence posts so farmers can string a hot wire to keep bears at bay. The department also has a fund that can be used to reimburse farmers for damage.

"I'd like to see a little more effort put into mitigation," Timmons said. He believes the public should give some thought to the state law that allows for lethal force to be used, and if they feel it should be changed contact their local lawmaker with their suggestions.

In the Tamworth incident, the farmer's intent was to shoot all four bears, Timmons said. The cubs were likely born in January or February.

Apparently, the sow and cubs had been coming to the property for two or three days initially harassing the chickens and then showing interest in bee hives containing honey.

Bears raiding chicken coops is typically a summer time occurrence and that it is happening now is indicative of the scarcity of their natural food supply, the biologist said.

"It's been a tough food year for them all around," Timmons said. Because of the lack of natural foods, the biologist said, people should be extra vigilant in securing their livestock and keeping their property clear of other bear favorites such a bird feeders, barbecue grills, and pet food.

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