Grafton County town wrestles with bear problem
"A couple of campers wanted to dump some trash at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon the other day, and they couldn't. The bears were in the dumpster," Clark said.
"Last weekend, we had 22 families, a hundred or so people. But next weekend it'll be 500 over July 4th, 5th and 6th; that's Thursday through Saturday," Clark said.
"It shoos them," usually toward the Baker River, Clark said of the loud noise.
Clark said she is aware that feeding bears will encourage their return and that bear-human encounters sometimes end badly, more often for the bear, which may be put down by wildlife officials. That's an outcome she wants to avoid.
Rob Calvert, a wildlife biologist with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, pointed out that for the past three or four years, feeding bears has been against the law in New Hampshire. The first offense usually results in a warning, with citations and fines for subsequent offenses, he said.
"Berlin used to have an open dump, and that's where people went to see the bears," he said.
Comeau said she responds as quickly as possible to bear complaints, and also tried to help Clark with some literature and advice, including tips on "appropriate care for their dumpster."
"Metal tops with latches. They work. But you have to constantly make sure that they're latched," Comeau said. Vicki Swan owns Fat Bob's, a dairy bar side-by-side with the Burning Bush, a wood stove store and hardware business she co-owns just south of the village center. She said she has had visits from hungry bears as recently as last week.
Across town, Jane Higgins, who has run the popular local restaurant Calamity Jane's for 27 years, acknowledged the bears' increased presence.
"Crows. They do humongous damage in the trash. They can carry a bag off."
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