- Associated Press - Friday, May 26, 2017

HANOVER, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire’s bear project leader said Friday there are no longer plans to euthanize a mother bear and her three yearlings that have been roaming neighborhoods for food near Dartmouth College. Instead they will be captured and moved to the northern part of the state.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu had asked that the bears not be killed.

“I am glad that we have been able to find a safe and humane option for these bears and I encourage residents to work with their local town officials to enact ordinances that could help avoid situations like this in the future,” he said.

Earlier this week, Andrew Timmins, the bear project leader for the state Fish and Game Department, said the bears, two of which got into a Hanover home near the college last weekend, needed to be euthanized because they are no longer afraid of humans.

“When their behavior reaches a certain point, it is tough to be wild bears again,” Timmins told the Valley News this week. “As the state’s bear biologist, I don’t think it would be prudent to move them to another area.”

Timmins said much of the problem stems from residents failing to take in their bird feeders by April 1 and not properly securing their garbage, much of which is related to student rental properties. The department and town have worked together for more than a year to address what the community can do to prevent conflicts with bears.

There was public outcry and a petition circulated opposing the decision to euthanize. Sununu said he shared people’s concerns “when it comes to finding a safe and humane way to remove the threat these bears present.”

Timmins, in a black bear assessment done for the state in November 2014, wrote that the movement of bears to abate conflicts between the animals and humans is often viewed as a “Band-Aid” approach to a conflict, “as it does little to address the root of the problem (typically a food attractant).”

He cited a 2013 New Hampshire study that found that translocated bears had a low rate of return to the area of capture at 28 percent, but had a relatively high nuisance recidivism rate of 55 percent. He said during an average year, five to 10 bears are translocated in New Hampshire due to conflict behavior.

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