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Gov. Sununu Jumps in to Prevent Euthanasia of NH Bears


After a mother bear and her cubs had become unwelcome guests in a Hanover neighborhood, the NH Fish and Game announced on Wednesday their plans to capture and euthanize them. However, after an overwhelming amount of residents expressed their concern for the bears, Governor Chris Sununu has now jumped in and expressed that he is not going to let it happen.


Due Diligence

Many have been outraged after hearing the euthanasia plans of the Fish and Game. However, the Dept. has taken several steps to prevent this situation.


Going back to almost a year ago when the mother bear was seen feeding off garbage and bird feeders in Hanover, the Fish and Game spread the word of important safety tips and preventative measures. Simple steps involve properly securing garbage and taking in their bird feeders. The Dept. even co-sponsored a free ‘Be Bear Smart’ workshop this past January, reiterating safety tips, as well as delivering a clear warning that after hibernation, the mother bear and her cubs would most likely return in search of food.


Unwelcome or Welcome Guests?

After hibernation, the mother bear and her cubs certainly did return to Hanover, where they consider home. Because many residents did not follow those preventative measures, the bears were essentially ‘trained’ to desire human food, eat from bird feeders and grow comfortable with human interaction. Although unwelcome from some of the resident's perspective, the bears instinctively have returned to the place where they have been provided a food source, which is certainly welcoming to them after several months without nourishment and being in a period of starvation after hibernation.

The Plan To Euthanize

Following other occurrences the bears were seen rummaging through a resident's unsecured outdoor trashcan on May 2nd, and also dislodging another resident's screen door. No people were hurt, but it made it clear that the residents weren't following safety tips, and the situation was becoming more dangerous.On May 23rd the Fish and Game announced their euthanasia plans. Fish and Game biologist Andrew Timmins stated, “We are going to capture them, and when we do, they will have to be destroyed” ... “It is not our preference. We sense some in town won’t approve, and it is our least preferred option.”


Standing Up For The Bears

Timmins was undoubtedly correct that residents would disapprove. After news of the plans to euthanize the bears spread, a petition to prevent euthanasia was created and was signed by over 9,000 people. According to the Valley News, within approximately 24hrs, more than 200 comments poured in the news station's Facebook page with those expressing concern and the NH Fish and Game was also flooded with calls from those in opposition.


Governor Chris Sununu Steps In Among those in disagreement with the plans to destroy the bears, is Gov. Sununu who, according to the Union Leader stated, "This morning, I was trying to save bears out in Hanover. If you were watching the news, we are trying to save bears. Don't worry, we aren't going to kill the bears."


Relocation

According to the Fish and Game, local sanctuaries are overpopulated, so that unfortunately may not be an option for this bear family and although some suggested Clarks Trading Post, forcing the bears to learn unnatural tricks for entertainment is not recommended.Andrew Timmons explained, “The trouble with relocation is ... the state has a healthy population of bears and each female bear has a territory; she drives out other females unless they’re her relatives." ... "Even if officials dump the mother bear 100 miles away, she’s going to be attacked by every bear along the way. She’s going to think of home and be home within a few weeks.”


This is an important point, as relocation does pose some disadvantages and safety risks, for the bears as well as NH residents. However, this has not stopped Gov. Sununu from expressing his promise to prevent the tragic alternative, and he is currently working with the NH Humane Society as well as the Fish and Game to create a sound plan.


Coexisting With Wildlife

With the human population ever growing in the state of NH, wildlife is losing their habitat at a rapid rate. This situation was extremely close to a disheartening end, making this mother bear and her cub's unknowing martyrs in a lesson of humane, safe, and responsible coexistence with wildlife.


This has been an influential and paramount reminder of the necessity for NH human/wildlife education, a coexistence plan, and strong laws that support it.


Coexistence Resources

On Thursday Lindsay Hamrick, NH State Director of the Humane Society of the United States, also expressed the need for more education on preventing human-bear interactions and the enforcement of prohibitions on leaving out human food attractants for bears.


She provided coexistence resources stating, ..."You can learn more about what to do to prevent conflicts with bears here. "And please be sure to let your decision-makers know that you support increased enactment and enforcement of laws to prevent the feeding of bears."


She followed up by stating, "It’s essential that people take these easy and common-sense steps. We can co-exist peacefully with bears—many communities have successfully done so."


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