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May 24. 2012 12:29AM

Bear sightings shake up Salem

SALEM — Officials are warning residents about black bear sightings in a North Salem neighborhood.

A couple on Coventry Lane reported seeing an adult bear in their back yard last weekend, according to Salem Animal Control Officer Corie Bliss.

The couple reportedly watched as the bear left the yard and walked into the woods before returning to the property. No cubs were seen with the bear.

“I didn't see any signs of destruction from the bear,” Bliss said.

The sighting wasn't that surprising to Bliss because the wooded area and water supply around the neighborhood provides a nice environment for bears.

“They live here but we don't see them that often,” Bliss said.

The bear was spotted again last night by another person in the neighborhood, Bliss said.

Black Bears typically shy away from human activity and aren't aggressive by nature, Bliss said. As with any wild animal, bears should never be approached.

New Hampshire Fish and Game and the USDA Wildlife Services were notified of the local sightings and told Bliss this is a busy time for bears. The agencies also recommend against approaching the animals and said they can be scared off with air horns.

“Bears are very active this time of year throughout New Hampshire,” Bliss said. “They're out and about trying to find a food source.”

Bliss provided informational packets to people in the neighborhood and advised them to remove potential food sources such as bird feeders and unsecured trash cans. She also alerted nearby North Salem Elementary School.

“It was an unusual phone call,” said Principal Janet Wilkins. “I didn't expect to get that kind of phone call.”

It's been business as usual since the call, Wilkins said. She sent a notice home to parents and walked the grounds with Bliss. Trash will be emptied nightly and Dumpsters secured to avoid attracting bears, Wilkins said. The school has also expedited plans to erect a section of fence that needed to be done.

“We also thought it would be a good time to practice reverse evacuation drills,” Wilkins said.

Reverse evacuation teaches children to safely return to the building from outside areas in an emergency and are practiced routinely.

Coventry Road area residents are taking their own precautions. Brandon Travaglini was surprised to hear that a bear was lurking in the woods.

“It's kind of scary,” Travaglini said.

He often parks near the woodline when he comes home at night and said he would try to be more aware now. He's also more careful about letting his 5-pound dog out alone. He hasn't made any major changes, Travaglini said.

“Life moves forward,” Travaglini said.

Residents should report any bear sightings to the Salem Animal Control Officer at 893-1911 or 890-2390.


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