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Bears roam near West Lebanon homes, and it’s more than the well-known Mink

  • A bear walks near homes on Pasture Lane in West Lebanon on Saturday. Resident Bob Stone said he doesn't think it's the well-known sow named Mink, but another female bear. Multiple bears have been spotted in Upper Valley residential neighborhoods recently, possibly due to the scarcity of food at this time of year. (Bob Stone photograph)

  • A bear walks near homes on Pasture Lane in West Lebanon on Saturday. Resident Bob Stone said he doesn't think it's the well-known sow named Mink, but another female bear. Multiple bears have been spotted in Upper Valley residential neighborhoods recently, possibly due to the scarcity of food at this time of year. (Bob Stone photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/16/2020 4:24:32 PM
Modified: 5/16/2020 9:53:47 PM

WEST LEBANON — As Bob Stone was in his driveway on Pasture Lane loading up his garbage to take it to the dump on Saturday, a black bear crossed his yard about 50 feet away from him.

“That was crazy,” Stone said in a phone interview.

Such sightings have become commonplace in Stone’s neighborhood, which sits near trails leading to the Lebanon-owned Boston Lot Conservation Area. The day before another bear was in a neighbor’s yard as Stone’s 7-year-old played nearby. Stone said neighbors have been sharing bear photos in a neighborhood Facebook group.

There is “lots and lots of bear activity right now,” said Michael Hinsley, Hanover’s deputy fire chief who keeps a close eye on bears in the area.

Among those active in the area is Mink, who was slated to be killed in 2017 after her cubs at the time were involved in a home invasion in Hanover. But after a public outcry Gov. Chris Sununu intervened.

The following year, another litter of Mink’s cubs was captured and taken to a bear preserve in Lyme. Mink, who wears a tracking collar, was transported to northern New Hampshire but eventually came back to the Upper Valley.

She reappeared in Hanover this spring with three new cubs. In addition, two other sows have been spotted in Hanover with their young this spring, said Andrew Timmins, the bear project leader for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

“There’s bears spread all across the landscape there,” Timmins said.

There are more in the area than have been spotted in the past, he said. Mink being removed from the area created an opening for other females, who may be her daughters, he said. It’s also likely that the bears’ presence is tied to food availability in the area, he said.

To avoid human-bear conflicts, it’s important for residents to secure their trash and put their bird feeders away, he said. This time of year is usually lean for bears because they are between the early spring foods such as acorns and the early summer foods such as berries.

“The only thing available right now is spring greens emerging,” Timmins said.

That makes bird feeders especially tempting, he said.

On Pasture Lane, Stone said he was doing his part in picking up his garbage to “make sure I’m not part of the problem.”

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.




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