A Moose and Now a Bear In Somersworth, Oh My!
First, it was a moose on the loose in Somersworth. Now a bear was spotted on Tuesday evening.
After the moose was spotted Saturday on Church Street, members of The (un)Official City of Somersworth, NH Facebook page reported seeing a bear on South Street near Cumberland Farms.
Madisyn McCormack wrote that the bear was five feet from her in the backyard and posted a picture of a large paw print.
It probably won't be the last time large wild animals will be seen close up, according to NH Fish & Game Conservation Officer James Benvenuti.
"We get reports on them every spring from Somersworth, Lee, Dover, Madbury, all around the area. This is nothing new, definitely nothing to get alarmed about," Benvenuti told Seacoast Current.
He says the bear population is growing in southern New Hampshire and they tend to move around in search of one thing: food.
"They're looking for food sources. Lots of time when people leave garbage out, and bird feeders, they're attracted to the black oil sunflower seeds, suet and things people put out for the birds. It's an easy food source for them," Benvenuti said.
But despite their reputation for being scary, bears are more scared of people, according to Benvenuti.
"They're very skittish by nature unless they get habituated. They tend to run away at the first sign of people more often than not," Benvenuti said.
And what other animals might you find in your yard?
"We've had a lot of reports of fox dens, the deer are starting to drop their fawns now. You're going to see a lot more wildlife in the springtime than you will in other times of the year just because the little ones are out and about. It's a matter of giving everyone their space and not trying to bring the cute little ones inside," Benvenuti said.
Is climate change affecting wildlife in New Hampshire?
A series of webinars is currently being offered by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Public Affairs Division’s Education Program.
According to a press release, warming temperatures and more powerful storms worldwide, and less snow and ice here in New Hampshire, are some of the types of changes that also have significant impacts on the animals which live in the Granite State.
The next webinar will be on June 17 at 12:00 p.m. The topic will be, "Climate Change and Wildlife in New Hampshire: Reconnecting the Watershed."
Laura Ryder: (603) 271-3212
Nicola Whitley: (603) 271-3211
Are there lots of bears in NH?
"New Hampshire has a pretty healthy bear population," Benvenuti told Seacoast Current. "The southern part of the state has a growing bear population. They've got a pretty big home range. They tend to move around quite a bit and unless there's a food source keeping them there, they don't tend to hang out in one specific area."
What do I do if I encounter a mother bear with cubs?
A mother bear will make a huffing or popping noise as a warning that you are too close which is called a "bluff charge." If this occurs, Fish & Game says you should:
- Keep your distance. Make it aware of your presence by clapping, talking, singing or making other sounds
- Maintain eye contact with the bear
- Speak in a soft, calm voice and slowly back away from the bear to show you are not weak but also not a threat.
- Do not run, avert your eyes or turn your back to the bear. The bear may perceive weakness and enforce dominance.
- The bear's "bluff charge" and chomping of teeth are a defense mechanism to establish the bear's dominance in an encounter with humans or a more dominant animal in the wild. Bears can outrun, out-swim and out-climb you.
- If you are attacked by a black bear, you should fight back rather than "play dead."
Maine's Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife also suggests:
- Rake up unused bird seed from the ground
- Keep pet food & trash inside or in fenced in areas
- Clean grills thoroughly after use
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH