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May 07. 2012 7:38PM

Bear sightings in Merrimack, Goffstown bring talk of caution


Police are tracking the reports of a bear and her two cubs wandering through various neighborhoods in southern Merrimack, specifically in the locations of Peaslee Road, Gail Road and Peter Road. (COURTESY)

MERRIMACK —There have been at least 13 reports of bear sightings in town in the past month, and residents are being warned to remove their bird feeders to avoid an encounter with one of the bears.

Police are tracking the reports of a bear and her two cubs wandering through various neighborhoods in southern Merrimack, specifically in the locations of Peaslee Road, Gail Road and Peter Road. The various sightings are now being posted on the police department's website.

Other communities are also dealing with reports of black bears, causing alarm in at least one Goffstown neighborhood last week.

“The three bears stayed in my yard for about an hour eating the bird feed,” said Holly Coleman, a Peaslee Road resident in Merrimack who spotted the bear family last Tuesday. “They did this last year too. They ripped the bird feeder down and took everything they could.”

Lt. Pierre Pouliot of the Goffstown Police Department said he received two or three phone calls about a different black bear last Wednesday in the area of New Boston Road and Jasmine Lane.

“It is just roaming around,” Pouliot said of the bear, adding it has not acted out aggressively or expressed any unusual behavior.

Still, police said neighbors are concerned about the sightings, prompting Goffstown authorities to issue a NIXLE alert about the bear. Residents are being asked to remove all bird feeders and secure their trash properly, as bears are coming out of hibernation and looking for food.

Pouliot said he has seen photographs of the bear in Goffstown, explaining it looks rather large, although it is difficult to tell the exact size. No cubs have been spotted in Goffstown, he stressed.

Authorities are reminding people not to approach any bears or disturb them in any way.

Representatives from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department have been notified of the bear sightings in Goffstown and Merrimack.

The agency is reminding citizens that if they spot a bear, they should keep their distance and make their presence known by clapping, talking or making other sounds while slowly backing away.

“Enjoy watching black bears and other wildlife from a distance. Respect them and their right to live in wild New Hampshire,” says a release. “Black bears do not typically exhibit aggressive behavior, even when confronted. Their first response is to flee.”

Black bears rarely attack or defend themselves against humans, however mother bears are protective of their cubs, according to the warning. A mother bear will usually give many warnings such as hugging or popping sounds, swatting the ground or even bluff charges to let a person know they are too close, said Rob Calvert, wildlife specialist with the state.

“Merrimack is the perfect environment for bears because it is connected with woodlands and ponds. There is a large wildlife corridor there,” said Calvert. “Last year this area was also on our radar. It is a great bear habitat.”

In the last few weeks, there has been a surge of bear sightings in southern New Hampshire, according to Calvert, adding other areas where bears have been spotted include Plymouth, Warner and the Concord area.

Residents are being urged to clean up and store outdoor grills after use, and to avoid placing meat or sweet food scraps in compost piles. In addition, pet food or dishes should not be left outdoors overnight.

More importantly, Calvert said to respect a bear's space and not to get too close to the animals in an attempt to photograph them.


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