CONCORD, N.H. – The female bear that was involved in repeated bear-human conflict activity in the town of Hanover over the past couple of years remains in the area after giving birth to 4 cubs this winter. Last May, wildlife biologists captured and moved this sow’s 3 yearlings from a previous litter due to ongoing conflicts that included a home entry, but the sow evaded capture. The N.H. Fish and Game Department plans to trap and relocate the sow and her 4 cubs when spring conditions are conducive to moving the bears to a more rural location in northern New Hampshire.
In anticipation of the pending move, Fish and Game biologists have captured the sow and fitted her with a GPS/radio collar. This will enable biologists to monitor the sows movements and behavior, and identify and remove potential food attractants that influence her activity patterns until she and her cubs can be relocated. Having known locations on this bear will also allow biologists to attempt to manipulate conflict behavior through aversive conditioning and other behavior modification techniques. The radio contact will also allow for the more efficient capture once the time is appropriate for this bear family to be relocated.
“It is critically important that area residents remove or secure any food attractants, specifically unsecured garbage and bird feeders,” said Fish and Game Bear Biologist Andrew Timmins. “The failure of some residents to remove food attractants is what caused the level of habituation and food-conditioning exhibited by this bear. Most people do not intentionally feed bears, but inadvertent feeding via garbage and birdseed is equally as detrimental. Bear conflict avoidance is the goal, so birdfeeders should be taken down and all garbage should be secured, with particular attention paid to areas of student housing, which has been a problem in the past.”
The plan is to move this bear and her cubs from an area with high human density and abundant human-associated food attractants to an area where human density and associated attractants are lower in an effort to help this bear and her cubs integrate into a more natural, less controversial environment.
This bear has been in the Hanover area for many years without exhibiting aggressive behavior, but all wild animals should be considered unpredictable and given due space and respect. Bear encounters often escalate when dogs become involved, so residents are asked to maintain complete control of their dogs at all times.
N.H. Fish and Game is working in conjunction with Ben Kilham of Lyme, NH, to help manage this situation. Ben is a longtime partner of the Department’s bear management program and is highly regarded as an expert on bear behavior.
For more information on bears, visit www.wildnh.com.