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Lebanon Police Caution Residents About Bears

  • Andrew Timmins, bear project leader with the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, fits a tranquilized black bear with a radio collar in Hanover, N.H., on April 13, 2018. Working with him is Nancy Comeau with USDA wildlife services. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, May 24, 2018

West Lebanon — Lebanon police are urging the public to be cautious when walking near wooded areas in the city after several people have reported bear sightings over the past several weeks.

Lebanon Police Chief Richard Mello also advised parents — specifically in the West Lebanon area — to supervise children when they are playing outdoors, according to a statement he issued on Thursday.

Just Thursday afternoon, a bear ran into the driver’s side door of a small black sedan as the woman drove south on North Main Street in West Lebanon, not far from the Bridge Street intersection.

Lebanon Police Officer Jeremy Perkins said the bear left a small dent in the door, and then took off west toward the Connecticut River. Officers canvassed the nearby neighborhoods after the encounter, but didn’t immediately locate the bear.

Meanwhile, Lebanon Fire Chief Chris Christopoulos said the bear that has been showing its face in West Lebanon recently is the sow that officials tranquilized and put a tracking collar on in Hanover last month. On Wednesday, the sow entered a garage near Cottage Circle, a road that neighbors a heavily wooded area that leads to Boston Lot Lake.

“We know every day where she is, but this is the first time when she came out in a really rural neighborhood,” Christopoulos said on Thursday.

However, officials aren’t sure if the bear that ran into the woman’s car was the sow. The bear didn’t have cubs with it at the time, Perkins said.

Officials don’t want to raise public alarm, but hope people will remain vigilant and not approach the sow, which has four cubs.

Hanover and Lebanon officials, along with Lyme bear expert Ben Kilham, plan to track her today to try to spook her back into the heavily wooded Mink Brook corridor, where she has lived much of her life.

She likely has shifted her territory because of fewer food attractants in Hanover, New Hampshire Fish and Game Bear Project Leader Andrew Timmins said this week.

“Things have been going very well with the Hanover sow but she has been moving around some,” Timmins said. “Based on daily data from the collar, the sow has recently moved from Hanover and is now in West Lebanon. I believe this reflects the fact that food attractants have become very limited to her, therefore she has expanded her range in an effort to find food.”

Because the sow has a tracking collar, Hanover officials — specifically Hanover Assistant Fire Chief Michael Hinsley — have been able to target residences in Hanover that frequently had attracted the bear and talk to the homeowners about removing food sources.

“He has been a real local advocate for the bear,” Timmins said of Hinsley.

It is “extremely important” that residents in West Lebanon secure food attractants and follow in Hanover’s footsteps, Timmins said. If they don’t and the sow continues to come out into neighborhoods, she may need to be relocated — without her cubs. The fate of the cubs in that situation would need to be determined.

“The worst thing for this bear is to have to move her. If she can stay where she is without conflict, that would be the best outcome,” Timmins said. “And that can happen only if people are responsible with the food attractants.”

Although typically two mother bears will never settle in similar geographical areas because they are territorial, Timmins said it appears another sow with cubs has since moved into the Hanover area.

There are several bears in the Hanover area, which comes as no surprise to bear experts.

Late Monday night, some Dartmouth College students reported a bear in a tree on East Wheelock Street. Officials said that wasn’t the collared sow.

Officials are urging all Upper Valley residents to pull in their bird feeders, clean up spilled birdseed, secure garbage and clean outdoor grills, Mello said in the statement.

“Lebanon officials are in contact with state of New Hampshire Fish and Game officers and wildlife experts to monitor the bear activity and implement strategies to lessen the likelihood of encounters with people,” Mello said.

Questions or problems with bears in the city should be directed to Lebanon emergency communications at 603-448-1212, or to Christopoulos via email at chris.christopoulos@LebanonNH.gov or 603-448-8810.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.