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One of Mink’s cubs captured in West Lebanon

  • One of the cubs believed to have belonged to the dead bear known as Mink is seen caught in a trap on North Main Street in West Lebanon, N.H., on Monday, Aug. 30, 2020. It's one of three 8-month-old cubs that wildlife officials have been searching for since Mink was found dead in Lebanon on Aug. 25; the other two are still to be found. Mink drew national attention in 2017 when she and three yearlings scavenged for food in neighborhoods less than a mile from the Dartmouth Green, diving into dumpsters and knocking over trash cans. She was set to be euthanized by wildlife officials before New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu intervened. She was found dead Aug. 25 after officials noticed that a tracking collar indicated she had not been moving for several days. Officials initially suspected she was hit by a car but no longer believe that is the case. (Photo courtesy Lebanon Fire Department) photo courtesy lebanon fire department

  • One of the cubs believed to have belonged to the dead bear known as Mink is seen caught in a trap on North Main Street in West Lebanon, N.H., on Monday, Aug. 30, 2020. It's one of three 8-month-old cubs that wildlife officials have been searching for since Mink was found dead in Lebanon on Aug. 25; the other two are still to be found. Mink drew national attention in 2017 when she and three yearlings scavenged for food in neighborhoods less than a mile from the Dartmouth Green, diving into dumpsters and knocking over trash cans. She was set to be euthanized by wildlife officials before New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu intervened. She was found dead Aug. 25 after officials noticed that a tracking collar indicated she had not been moving for several days. Officials initially suspected she was hit by a car but no longer believe that is the case. (Photo courtesy Lebanon Fire Department) Photo courtesy Michael Hinsley

  • Hanover Deputy Fire Chief Michael Hinsley sets up a game camera near a housing development off Old Pine Tree Cemetery Road in Lebanon, N.H., as Jake DeBow, New Hampshire Fish and Game’s region one biologist, left, and Andrew Timmins, Fish and Game’s black bear project leader, right, prepare a package of doughnuts as bait Thursday, August 27, 2020. The men were continuing their search for the cubs of Mink, the black bear who was found dead in Lebanon last week. A cub was trapped in West Lebanon at a home near the Wilder Dam Monday, August 31 after several sightings over the weekend. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Courtesy photograph

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/31/2020 10:34:51 AM
Modified: 8/31/2020 9:28:18 PM

WEST LEBANON — Perseverance and a package of apple-cider doughnuts bought at a two-for-one special at Price Chopper.

That’s what it took for Lebanon and Hanover officials to corral a “feisty” black bear cub Monday morning after a weekend of sightings and chases in the woods of West Lebanon.

The male cub, believed to be one of the three left orphaned by the death of Mink, a black bear sow, was captured in a trap at a home along Route 10 near the Wilder Dam in West Lebanon, raising hopes his two siblings may also be found.

“We have successfully caught the first of Mink’s cubs,” Hanover Deputy Fire Chief Michael Hinsley said via text Monday morning. He said the cub’s “face coloration” matches what was known of Mink’s 8-month-old offspring from their roaming with their mother around Lebanon and Hanover before her death.

The cub was spotted twice on Sunday eating from a downed bird feeder at the house along Route 10, and Lebanon Fire Chief Chris Christopoulos and his wife Lori chased it through the woods near the Connecticut River and the nearby Boston Lot that day. They were also aided in the search by Plainfield resident Bruce Plummer. Hanover Deputy Fire Chief Michael Hinsley said the three “put a lot of time into rescuing this little guy.”

The cub, however, was not exactly showing his gratitude while awaiting transport to the Kilham Bear Center in Lyme on Monday morning.

“He’s definitely healthy,” Christopoulos said. “He was clucking at me and feisty, and did not like being in a cage. I was not going to put my fingers near him.”

Christopoulos said the cub disturbed the trap, which was being watched closely by the homeowner, around 9:30 p.m. Sunday. The fire chief, who lives in that part of the city, went over and reset the trap that night, but the cub came back and tripped it again around 6:15 Monday morning. Christopoulos thinks the cub was reaching in for the apple cider doughnuts used as bait through the outside of the cage, since it was loose on the ground.

Christopoulos and Plummer secured the trap with stakes in the ground early Monday, and within hours the cub was captured.

“I’m pretty happy that we got him. We chased him around all weekend,” Christopoulos said. “We started to think we should call him Houdini.”

Christopoulos forwarded photos of the cub in its trap via email and said it was “affectionately named Chief!”

Officials with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, aided by Hanover and Lebanon fire officials, have been searching for Mink’s cubs since last Tuesday, when her body was found along the banks of the Mascoma River. A gross necropsy last week indicated that she was at least 20 to 30 years old, and may have died a week earlier of natural causes, though that is being investigated further.

Mink gained national notoriety — and a fan club — after wildlife authorities recommended she be destroyed in 2017 after training a litter of cubs to scavenge for food from the birdfeeders and dumpsters in Hanover neighborhoods near Dartmouth College. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu intervened and spared the bear, but she was tranquilized and exiled to northern Coos County the following year after teaching another set of cubs to feed from manmade sources. She managed to make her way back to the Upper Valley in 2018 and emerged this winter with three new cubs.

Another of her cubs was apparently spotted crossing Route 120 Monday morning not far from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, which is also near Boston Lot, which Hinsley said is “amazing bear habitat.” Wildlife authorities are hopeful they can be caught near their old den and stomping grounds, not far from the Mink Brook Nature Preserve near the Lebanon-Hanover line.

“I remain very optimistic that we will catch the others as well,” said Andrew Timmins, the black bear project leader for New Hampshire Fish & Game. “There have been intermittent reports all weekend of sporadic cub sightings around Route 120 and the hospital. This tells us that they are remaining in that general area.”

Timmins said the cubs appear to be healthy and probably weigh about 30 pounds.

Authorities hope the cubs can be rehabilitated at the Kilham bear preserve in Lyme and then eventually released into the wild. Bear cubs typically leave their mother when they are yearlings, or about 18 months old.

Hinsley said the captured cub was “much calmer” by the time it arrived in Lyme, where he was examined by naturalist Ben Kilham and then released into his own enclosure.

John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com.




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