MERRIMACK — Fearing for the safety of neighborhood children, police on Tuesday made a controversial decision to shoot and kill a bear that attacked a goat at a local home.

Merrimack PD sign

The incident occurred in the early morning hours.

“Although uncommon, bears are wild animals and, if hungry enough, will attack other animals,” police said in a statement. “After we consulted with the New Hampshire Fish and Game, the decision was made to euthanize the bear.

“We understand this was not a popular decision, trust us, we did not want to do it either. However, according to Fish and Game, once the bear has found a food source, in this case the goat, it will not leave the area, especially when other animals are present as was the case here,” according to the statement.

Andrew Timmins, a bear biologist with Fish and Game, said Tuesday it is relatively rare for a bear to attack a goat. Typically it is chickens that are the victims, he said.

“Bears are opportunistic,” said Timmins.

He said the goat’s owner was urged to install some fencing to protect the rest of the livestock at the Merrimack residence.

“We don’t want to have to be killing our wildlife,” said Timmins, stressing the importance of teaching the public to make the necessary investments to secure their livestock.

Timmins said his agency loans out electric fences when necessary.

It is not clear whether this was the same bear that was reportedly seen wandering in yards off Turkey Hill Road between Eden Street and the Birches housing development last week.

According to those online reports, the bear was not afraid of loud humans or dogs, and homeowners were warning residents in the area to keep a close eye on their children and pets.

Local residents were vocal on social media Tuesday, with some criticizing how authorities handled the situation and others praising them.

“Our biggest concern was for the children in the area, and we did not want to chance a child, or anything else, being harmed by this bear. It was not feasible to tranquilize and trap the bear,” said police. “The Merrimack Police Department values all life, including wild animals, but our No. 1 concern is human life — that is why this decision was made.”

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