Primary Source: Mink’s cubs may be moving toward familiar den; Ryan maskless at RNC

  • A cub believed to be one of Mink's eats out of a bird feeder along Route 10 in West Lebanon on Sunday.

  • Matthew Bjelobrk

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/30/2020 7:49:00 PM
Modified: 9/24/2020 7:47:45 AM

Exciting news to report on the search for Mink’s missing cubs. Lebanon Fire Chief Chris Christopoulos and his wife Lori were driving back from breakfast Sunday morning when they heard a report from dispatch that a cub was spotted on Route 10 in West Lebanon.

Sure enough, they drove past a home a few houses north of the Allard’s Furniture and Mattress Outlet on Route 10 and spotted a cub “chowing down on a bird feeder” on a lawn, he said. By the time Christopoulos could turn around, the cub was gone.

The fire chief got of his vehicle and followed a game trail toward the Connecticut River, then north toward the Wilder Dam, but saw no sign of the cub, believed to be one of three missing since Mink was found dead near the Mascoma River on Tuesday. But as Christopoulos was making his way out of the woods onto Route 10, the cub crossed the highway in front of him, heading up into the woods of the Boston Lot.

The Christopouloses walked around for about 90 minutes but saw no sign of the cub, but its small size makes it hard to find. Wildlife officials have estimated the cubs, which are 8 months old, might weigh between 25 and 35 pounds.

“If it was in a tree, it could probably hide, and we wouldn’t see it,” Christopoulos said.

The cub returned to the same bird feeder along Route 10 late in the afternoon, where it was photographed around 4:30 p.m. "We are still looking," the fire chief said. 

He said authorities had received a report of a sighting on the two other cubs Saturday near the Hanover Road Professional Center building on Route 120, near the Hanover line, and they are hopeful that the trio are making their way back to their den near Sachem Village and the Mink Brook Nature Preserve, where some traps have now been set. Wildlife officials want to capture them and take them to the Kilham Bear Center in Lyme for the winter.

Christopoulos said he and Lori would see Mink and her cubs frequently near their home in West Lebanon and that they had spent the “better part of the weekend” helping search for the cubs. He said the intense search for the cubs was a first for him in his 39-year fire service career.

“People are really enamored with this,” he said.

On a separate front, more than 330 “Mink Wuz Here” stickers have been sold to benefit conservation groups, at $5 a pop, including 90 at an event Sunday at River Park in West Lebanon.

Anyone who sees the cubs is asked to call Lebanon dispatch at 603-448-1212.

Maskless at GOP convention

Cottage Hospital CEO Maria Ryan was at the White House last week for the Republican National Convention, and a video of her sitting among the largely maskless crowd on the White House lawn next to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani went viral on social media.

That’s because Giuliani, who had a speaking role Thursday night, was sweating profusely (it can be hot in August in D.C.) and could be seen wiping his brow with a handkerchief, patting that down on his knee, then rubbing Ryan’s bare arm with his hand before leaning in to talk with her.

Ryan, who previously attended a White House dinner with Giuliani, clearly had a good time socializing in Washington. She posted photos of herself on Twitter posing with Eric Trump, Republican spinmeister Kellyanne Conway, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, and former professional athletes David Wells and Herschel Walker.

Asked by email Friday why she wasn’t wearing a mask or social distancing, considering all visitors to Cottage Hospital itself have to wear masks, Ryan did not respond directly. Cottage Hospital spokeswoman Dhaniele Duffy did respond by email, saying Ryan was on vacation and “was invited to the RNC convention” and attended the Thursday’s festivities with Healy Baumgardner, a former Giuliani aide, “and a few others.”

As for COVID-19 precautions, Duffy asserted that Ryan and her companions were “tested frequently” and that “At Cottage Hospital, we all wear a mask in the hospital.”

Ryan may have been blase about mask wearing in Washington, but a more prominent Upper Valley hospital CEO is taking a hard, prominent line, on the issue. Dartmouth-Hitchcock CEO Joanne Conroy appeared in ads the Lebanon-based health care system started airing on WMUR-TV last week and also are streaming on its Facebook page, saying D-H will “lead the way by example” about the importance of mask-wearing.

“Somehow the simple public health recommendations essential to stopping the spread of this pandemic have become political,” Conroy said. “That must end today. Wearing a mask is a public health imperative, not a political act. COVID-19 does not care if one leans left or right.”

Candidate from Haverhill

A North Haverhill Republican who just finished up classes at Vermont Law School is one of four candidates in next week’s District 2 primary contest to see who the GOP will field against likely Democratic nominee, U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H.

But Matthew Bjelobrk (rhymes with “yellow brick”) is upset that he and Eli Clemmer, R-Berlin, haven’t been invited to the WMUR debate this week that will include better-known candidates Steve Negron, R-Nashua, the 2018 nominee, and former state Rep. Lynne Blankenbeker, R-Concord.

Bejlobrk, 53, is an Afghanistan and Iraq combat veteran and retired police sergeant from Long Island who bought a home in Haverhill in 2014 and has served on the Selectboard since 2018. A Trump supporter, he is also the vice chairman of Grafton County Republicans. Bjelobrk, who volunteers for the Blackhorse 4 Heroes program that helps veterans with PTSD, said it is “not fair” that he and Clemmer won’t be invited to the WMUR debate.

But WMUR News Director Alisha McDevitt said neither Bjelobrk nor Clemmer met the criteria for the station’s debate, including not measuring in polls or filing Federal Election Commission reports that demonstrate they have raised much money for their campaigns.

John P. Gregg can be reached at

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