A family of bears set to be euthanized by the state in New Hampshire’s Upper Valley region, saved by a passionate group of community members.
The bears have been living in a neighborhood less than a mile from busy downtown streets since last summer. Their lives were about to be cut short, until thousands of people stepped up to protect them.
“It’s amazing that people not just in the Upper Valley, but in the country want to help these bears,” said Nicole Cantlin of Enfield.
When a momma bear and her three cubs broke into a Hanover home over the weekend, they just about sealed their fate - the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has a strict policy that when a bear enters a home, they must be destroyed.
“I don’t think bears should suffer and be euthanized because of people’s actions,” Cantlin said.
So she intervened and started a petition to save the bears.
“It’s been 48 hours and we have almost 10,000 signatures,” she said Friday.
Even Governor Chris Sununu promised to work with the fish and game department to find a humane alternative to euthanization.
Late Friday they made a decision to relocate the bears to northern New Hampshire.
“There is no one in the Fish and Game Department that relishes putting bears down in these situations,” said Dr. Ben Kilham of Lyme, NH
Kilham is New Hampshire’s only bear rehabilitator and he works closely with Fish and Game officials. Although glad the bear’s lives are spared, he’s not convinced that relocation is an effective solution.
“Within a week’s time, regardless of where you put her in New Hampshire, she’s going to be back in Hanover,” he said.
Kilham makes it clear, the problem in Hanover is not the bears, it’s the people.
“They only come for food, they come for bird feeders, they come for dumpsters, they come for unsecured garbage,” he said.
Kilham says if residents don’t start changing their ways, the next family of bears might not be so lucky as to have Cantlin and thousands of others of its side.
“We hope this will raise awareness and people will leave the wildlife alone,” Cantlin said.
Kilham and many others are calling for an ordinance in Hanover that would fine residents for actions that attract bears.