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Fish and Game Traps 3 of Hanover’s Nuisance Bears (Video)

  • Wild life officials trapped and released two of three bear cubs spotted in the Hanover, N.H. area on Saturday, May 27, 2017. (Courtesy photo Nicole Amber Cantlin)

  • Wild life officials trapped and released two of three bear cubs spotted in the Hanover, N.H. area on Saturday, May 27, 2017. (Courtesy photo Nicole Amber Cantlin)



Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, May 29, 2017

Hanover — Three juvenile bears that were initially targeted to be destroyed after two of them forced their way into a residence and later won a reprieve from Gov. Chris Sununu have been trapped and relocated.

One of the bears was captured on Saturday and two more were trapped on Sunday. All of them were captured using culvert-style bear traps set near dumpsters at Wheelock Terrace and Buck Road, according to Andrew Timmins, the state of New Hampshire Fish and Game’s Bear Project leader.

“All released together today,” Timmins said in an email on Memorial Day.

They were set free at an undisclosed location in the North Country, Timmins said, adding each one was tagged to aid in future tracking.

The bears’ mother hasn’t been accompanying the juveniles in recent days, Timmins said, and as of Sunday evening she had not been captured. Fish and Game will resume efforts to trap her this week, he said.

“While she may be spending more time out of town during breeding season, she ultimately will return to her core area and likely have her next litter of cubs in January,” Timmins said.

It’s been suggested the sow might leave the area if attractants, such as food and birdseed, are cleaned up, Timmins said.

But he’s doubtful residents in Hanover and Lebanon will comply sufficiently before more cubs are born.

“As much publicity as has been on this issue over the past week, I have seen very little improvement on the reduction of food attractants in the area, particularly on the Route 120 side,” he said.

This spring, the bear family, fresh from hibernation, became notorious for wandering through a neighborhood between downtown Hanover and Mink Brook, drawn by unsecured household trash and bird feeders left out after the winter.

When two of the bears entered a Thompson Terrace home two weeks ago, Fish and Game officials announced their intent to destroy the bears, saying the animals were too accustomed to humans and were unlikely to be successfully relocated.

But public outcry over plans to euthanize the animals was swift.

More than 10,000 people, many from outside the state, signed an online petition within days to save the bears.

Meanwhile, Ben Kilham, a bear biologist in Lyme who rescues wild bears, questioned whether killing the bears was necessary. Kilham said last week that with black bear breeding season approaching, the sow would soon chase her cubs away so she could mate.

Kilham emphasized that human behavior needed to change in order to change bear behavior.

Gov. Chris Sununu ultimately stepped into the fray late last week and ordered wildlife officials to relocate the bears.

“I am glad that we have been able to find a safe and humane option for these bears and I encourage residents to work with their local town officials to enact ordinances that could help avoid situations like this in the future,” Sununu said in a prepared statement.

Sununu’s decision was praised by many, particularly Nicole Cantlin, the Enfield resident who started the online petition to save the animals.

Cantlin was present when two of the cubs were tranquilized on Sunday and posted photos of two sedated bears to her Facebook page on Monday.

“I did get to see them awake before these shots and they were more like dogs than a wild animal. It’s sad people have made them this way,” she wrote. “Hoping they can make a new life up north.”