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Cornish Police Shoot Bear That Attacked Chickens



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Cornish — After consulting with a New Hampshire Fish and Game conservation officer, Cornish police on Monday night shot and killed a bear at a home in Cornish.

Cornish Police Chief Doug Hackett said the bear started to become a problem on Saturday when it killed at least one chicken at a home off Center Road and wouldn’t leave the area when confronted.

The homeowner operates a daycare, and also has other livestock on the property.

“I responded four times on Saturday. There was constant conflict back and forth,” Hackett said on Wednesday. “(The bear) was unafraid of humans.”

Hackett declined to release the homeowner’s name.

When reached by phone on Wednesday, a woman at the residence declined to comment.

On Monday, the bear continued to antagonize chickens in a chicken coop, prompting Fish and Game officials to link up with their partners at New Hampshire Wildlife Services to try and get the bear to move off the property.

Wildlife Services specialist Nick Kucia responded and set up a “Critter Gitter” device, which sets off loud noises and flashing lights when movement is detected. He scoped out the yard to see what the owner would need for electric fencing; Fish and Game and Wildlife Services have a loan program that temporarily provides items such as fencing to assist the public in reducing nuisance wildlife damage.

Kucia had planned to return with fencing, but before he or another official could get the fencing there, the bear had been shot, said Rob Calvert, Fish and Game’s wildlife damage specialist.

Hackett said the bear was involved in “more conflict” on Monday, so after consulting with Fish and Game Conservation Officer Kevin Bronson, Cornish police Sgt. Corey Stevens shot the bear around 8:30 p.m. Neither Bronson nor Kucia could be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Hackett said he wasn’t sure how many chickens the bear had killed.

When police arrived on Monday, Fish and Game Lt. James Kneeland said, the bear defended its ground and wouldn’t leave. If an officer deems a bear to be a threat or a perceived threat, the officer has the right to take lethal action, Kneeland said.

“People have the right to protect themselves and their property,” he said.

Despite that, at least two Fish and Game specialists — New Hampshire bear project leader Andrew Timmins and Calvert — said they wish they’d had more time to intervene before the officer turned to lethal force.

Both men said bears too often are shot because they have killed some chickens, which is why Fish and Game and Wildlife Services have collaborated to create programs meant to lessen those conflicts.

“Bears getting into chickens is a very common issue we are dealing with,” Timmins said. “If we start trading bears for chickens, we won’t have a lot of bears left in the future.”

Calvert seconded that thought.

“I don’t like to trade bears for chickens,” he said.

The men urged people with chickens and livestock to set up appropriate fencing, for example, to keep conflicts to a minimum.

Calvert said he wished officials were able to get the fencing up at the Cornish home sooner, or provide other means of intervention in the meantime.

Calvert sympathized with the homeowner, and said it can be very emotional to lose chickens.

The bear likely was a young male who was just starting to find his way, Calvert said.

“It’s like the teenager that doesn’t have its first job and the easiest thing is to sit on the stone wall (and go after a chicken),” Calvert said. “I am an advocate (for bears), but I understand you can’t save them all.”

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