Bears getting comfortable in southern NHBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
April 20. 2018 7:04AM
HOLLIS — Bear alerts aren’t just being issued in Hanover.
Communities like Bedford, Merrimack and Hollis have issued their own ursine warnings after several recent sightings in the southern part of the state.
One Hollis family got quite a surprise when a curious bear ventured onto their front porch Tuesday evening.
“My daughter, Nora, was doing her homework at the table and we heard a noise at the front door,” said Laurie Miller of Forest View Drive. “We have floor to ceiling windows and I could not believe the bear was so close. (My daughter) started shooting pictures and I started making noises to scare it away.”
Miller said they frequently see bears and other wildlife on their property, which backs up onto conservation land that is part of a greenway from Hollis into Milford. But this was the first time a bear has come to the front door.
“In the bear’s defense, our front step is 20 feet from the woods. I think it just wandered up,” said Miller.
“I think it is not just bears being brazen, but all animals are having a tough time with the spring. They are all hungry and looking for food.”
Miller took down her bird feeders several weeks ago, but she thinks the animals are likely interested in the grain at her chicken coop.
“We have bear teeth marks in the coop door. You can tell a bear has been nosing around, and the chickens stopped laying eggs for a little while,” she said. “This time of year we try to put only enough grain out for the day.”
In the past week, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has received several calls about bears in southern New Hampshire, according to Andy Timmins, a state bear biologist.
“Bears have become more comfortable in our environment. These are not aggressive bears, but people in the southern part of the state are less familiar with how to live with bears,” Timmins said on Thursday.
When bears start to come out of hibernation they have lost up to 30 percent of their body weight, said Timmins. They’re hungry and are searching for food, but their usual food sources aren’t ready yet because of the late spring and lack of greenery.
“Bears don’t care about people. They are there for all the food that people leave out,” he said.
This week, Bedford police issued a warning to homeowners after several bear sightings were reported.
“When you see the bears, stay at a safe distance. Take lots of photos and enjoy, but they will move on by themselves,” the Bedford Police Department posted online.
Police are warning citizens not to feed the bears, and to remove all food sources such as bird feeders and trash barrels. They also encouraged homeowners to keep their barbecue grills clean, covered and stored.
Merrimack police issued a similar plea last week, urging residents to take down their bird feeders. “Do not wait for a bear to get your feeder and then respond, as doing so encourages foraging behavior by bears near residences,” Merrimack police said in an online post. “It is much easier to avoid a bear-human conflict than it is to resolve one.”
Other recommendations include securing garbage in air-tight containers, placing trash outside on the day it is scheduled for pickup rather than the night before and bringing in all pet food dishes.
“It’s baby season. If you see baby fawns, turkeys and bears, or any other wildlife, please do not touch them,” Bedford police added. “Their mother is close by watching them. She puts them there for a reason.”
Last week, Fish and Game announced that the infamous female bear involved in repeated bear-human encounters in Hanover in recent years remains in the area after giving birth to four cubs this past winter.
In a news release, the department said it plans to trap and relocate the Hanover bear and her four cubs this spring, with the intention of moving them to a more rural location in northern New Hampshire.
Biologists have already captured the mother and fitted her with a GPS radio collar to monitor her movements and behavior, according to the release.