Massachusetts Environmental Police are investigating after a homeowner in Middleton, Massachusetts, shot and killed a black bear they said had attacked and killed two of their goats and eight of their chickens.
Around 7:30 p.m. Thursday night, environmental police said they were notified by Middleton police that a black bear had attacked and killed two goats at a residence in town. Just over 12 hours later, at around 8:30 a.m. Friday, the residents reportedly found the same bear attacking their chickens in the chicken pen. Eight chickens were killed.
Environmental police said one of the residents at the home then shot and killed the bear, an 80 pound male.
Under state law, landowners and tenants are allowed to kill a bear that is caught in the act of damaging their property, environmental police said.
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No charges have been filed at this time. Massachusetts Environmental Police said they are continuing to investigate.
Black bears are quite common in western and central Massachusetts, but sightings are becoming more frequent in eastern Massachusetts in recent months and years. Sightings have been reported in Middleton as well as nearby Peabody and Danvers in recent months.
The statewide population of black bears is estimated to be over 4,500
As a general rule, environmental police and the Department of Fish and Game warn people not to intervene when bears venture onto their property, as they will typically move on in search of food.
The most effective method to prevent black bears from killing chickens and livestock, environmental police said, is to install and properly maintain electric fencing.
For more information about black bears in Massachusetts and tips on how to prevent human/bear conflicts, go to MassWildlife's website.