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Warren campground cited for record 'bear activity'

Union Leader Correspondent

August 05. 2014 8:09PM
New Hampshire Fish and Game officials said they have worked with many New Hampshire campgrounds to resolve bear issues. "Nearly all these campgrounds now have Dumpsters that contain metal tops and doors that can be locked, thereby making them inaccesible to bears," the department said in a news relesase. (COURTESY)

WARREN — A campground owner has been called out by the Fish and Game Department for not bear-proofing his trash receptacles.

“Bear activity at Moose Hillock has reached a record level this summer, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by the public,” Fish and Game bear biologist Andrew Timmins said in a news release Tuesday. Large groups of people “gather daily at the Dumpster area to watch multiple bears rummage in the Dumpsters.”

The Fish and Game Department cited “perennial bear/human conflicts” at the Moose Hillock Campground and noted that a written warning had been issued to Joseph Paradis, the campground owner.

“The situation at Moose Hillock has been particularly challenging for the past 14 years, primarily because previous recommendations have not been followed,” Timmins said in the news release. Timmins said open trash receptacles at the campground attract bears, which also target “unsecured coolers and food at campsites.”

Paradis maintains he’s in compliance and is saddened about what he says is undue attention being focused on his business.

Paradis said he was directed Friday to install metal tops on his trash receptacles and to do so within two weeks. It was not clear what penalty he would face if the lids were not installed.

Paradis said Tuesday the lids were in place as of Monday, adding he was “appalled that they (Fish and Game) would throw me under the bus the way they did.”

“I have lids on my Dumpsters and I have hopes that the bears will be removed by Fish and Game and, hopefully, it will all play out for the best,” Paradis said.

In past years, Fish and Game officials have removed bears from Moose Hillock, said Paradis, but the agency recently informed him that it would discontinue the practice until he put lids on the trash containers.

Col. Martin Garabedian, head of N.H. Fish and Game Law Enforcement, said the department has received “many complaints” from Moose Hillock guests.

“The situation at the campground has become a public safety issue for campers and cannot be tolerated any further,” he said.

Since 2000, Fish and Game staff and USDA Wildlife Services “have routinely responded to conflicts at Moose Hillock,” and despite those visits — which have included educational outreach, using hounds to chase bears away, and removing an adult male bear as well as a sow and her four cubs — the problem at Moose Hillock remains, Timmins said in the news release.

Paradis said he personally has chased away bears from the campground. When campers ogled the ursines, he would disperse them, too.

“We’ve been here since 1986 and had a bear wander in occasionally,” said Paradis, but not with the frequency that Fish and Game — representatives of which were not available for comment Tuesday night — would have the public believe.

“I run a great business,” Paradis said. “Research me on Tripadvisor. You’ll see maybe one comment on bears or two.”

Tripadvisor recorded 90 reviews for Moose Hillock, which cumulatively earned it four out of five stars and a Tripadvisor ”Certificate of Excellence” for 2014. A search of the reviews turned up two related to bears, the first saying that the bears “were an incredible nuisance, in the Dumpsters ripping through the trash while the staff stood and watched.”

Another reviewer wrote that while they “love this place,” they would not be returning “until the campground changes their trash practices. Even the bear pamphlet that they give you at check-in advises to only camp at campgrounds that have bear-proof Dumpsters.”

Those safeguards, Paradis said, are now in place at Moose Hillock Campground.

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