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Bears Pay Visit to Hanover Home

  • Two bear cubs peer through the screen of a kitchen door on School Street in Hanover, N.H., a neighborhood near the Dartmouth Green that has been visited frequently by bears, on Friday, April 28, 2017. Photo by Mark Laidre

  • Three cubs and a sow eat from a trash can at a School Street residence in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Daniela Borell photograph)



Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Hanover — Two bear cubs dislodged the screen to a kitchen door of a School Street home on Friday evening, the latest in a number of bear encounters with residents in the neighborhood near the Dartmouth campus.

Homeowner Kay Litten said she was upstairs around 7:30 p.m. and didn’t hear the two cubs as they peered through the door to a small vestibule off the kitchen at the home, which is surrounded by woods and sits above Mink Brook.

“They could have broken through the screen, I’m sure, but they didn’t, but they did dislodge the screen from its bottom mount,” she said on Monday.

“I said they were like to knock on the door and come in and make a sandwich for themselves,” said Litten, who had cooked an egg about 45 minutes earlier. Her husband, Larry, was at a furniture-making demonstration at the Hopkins Center near the Dartmouth Green at the time.

The bears were seen, and photographed, by Mark Laidre, a Dartmouth College biology professor who had been walking around the neighborhood, which is about a 12-minute walk from the center of campus, with a visiting colleague from the United Kingdom. Laidre said they saw three cubs and a sow going down the road seeking food, and followed them for about 30 minutes.

“Initially, they had tipped over a trash can at one house, proceeded to pull out all the bags, and were eating in a big huddle,” Laidre said. At another home, a man came out and made gestures with his hands. The cubs fled, but the sow moved toward him, and he moved away.

At the Litten home, the sow and one cub had gone around front when the two other cubs stood up and peered through the screen.

“It certainly did not look like they were trying to get in the house. They were just standing up and peering in. If they really wanted to claw through, they could have,” said Laidre, who studies animal behavior.

The cubs scampered off when they knocked over a watering can, and Laidre told Larry Litten, who had just returned from the Dartmouth event, about the incident.

In March, Hanover officials warned residents to be alert for black bears around town and to remove or secure food sources, such as trash containers and grills, after repeat encounters with a sow and three cubs. And a Jack Russell terrier was seriously injured after confronting a sow last November in the same neighborhood.

Kay Litten said she and her husband have lived in the home since 1999 and already keep their trash and bird seed tightly closed in the garage.

Now they will no longer put their compost outside and may move the bird seed to the cellar, she said.

Laidre, who grew up in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., said it is remarkable to see bears so close to the Dartmouth campus, but emphasized that the bears themselves are not being aggressive.

“These are wild animals, and we can’t leave out food or trash to attract them in,” he said. “We need to take the right precautions and be aware that we are surrounded by nature.”

John P. Gregg can be reached at 603-727-3217 or jgregg@vnews.com.