LINCOLN — It’s uncommon for bears and humans to have close encounters, but it happened here Thursday, and it resulted in two people being scratched and the death of the bear.

Fish and Game spokesman Eric Aldrich said the incident happened in the Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch State Park when a male bear, which had been relocated to Woodstock from Wilmot, was lumbering through the area, investigating trash cans in the search of food.

“The visitors were watching the bear as it knocked over trash cans and slowly wandered among the group, sniffing some individuals in search of food,” Aldrich said. “As it meandered through the visitors, it pawed and scratched the boy and man.”

The identities of the two were not available; the 11-year-old boy was from Maine and the man was from New York. They were treated for scratches at a local hospital.

A conservation officer shot the bear, which had ear tags from its capture earlier this summer, and it was sent to Concord, where it was tested for rabies. Aldrich said the results were negative.

The bear had been trapped and tagged by conservation officers about a month ago, after it had raided trash cans at a children’s summer camp in Wilmot, he said. At the time of the bear’s release, he said, it had not demonstrated any threatening behavior toward people, but in the intervening weeks, it had developed some nuisance behavior and “was to be dispatched by a conservation officer if it could be found again,” he said.



Bears are part of the summer landscape in Lincoln, partly because visitors and locals alike make it easy for bears to be attracted by food for the sake of a few pictures.

“Habituated bears can exhibit aggressive behavior in pursuit of food,” said Mark Ellingwood, a Fish and Game biologist. “The phenomenon is analogous to that of aggressive goats in a petting zoo, with the difference being that bears are potentially more dangerous. We urge people to avoid contributing to the delinquency and eventual death of bears by removing all attractants from around their homes and by storing trash securely.”

Last month, biologists tagged a female bear next to a dumpster designed to keep the animals out. It had been lured there by bags of trash left by visitors, who stood nearby to watch her.

“Some tourists and local residents may think it’s fun to feed the bears, but they should realize there are consequences, said Col. Ronald Alie. “Feeding bears clearly creates a hazard to the person feeding the bear and to others, and for no legitimate purpose,” he said.

Aldrich said the incident in Lincoln has prompted the department to consider a more aggressive policy to discourage human behavior that has fatal consequences for bears. Also, he said, Fish and Game sees a need to make bear-proof dumpsters readily available in the Lakes Region and points north.

Fish and Game’s “Something’s Bruin in New Hampshire” campaign notes, “A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear” and advises people how to avoid conflicts with bears.

“Feeding black bears — whether purposeful or not — can lead bears to lose their fear of humans, and that’s not fair to New Hampshire’s bears, to your neighbors and to visitors to this state,” Alie said.

Fish and Game officials remind visitors, hikers, campers and residents that:
-- Black bears do not typically exhibit aggressive behavior, even when confronted. Their first response is to flee. Black bears rarely attack or defend themselves against humans.
-- Normal trail noise should alert bears to your presence and prompt them to move without being noticed. However, if you see a bear, keep your distance. Make it aware of your presence by clapping, talking or making other sounds.
-- If a bear does not immediately leave after seeing you, you should either leave the area immediately or seek shelter in a vehicle or building until the bear wanders away.
-- Black bears will sometimes “bluff charge” when cornered, threatened or attempting to steal food. Stand your ground and slowly back away. Leave the area immediately.
-- Enjoy watching black bears and other wildlife from a distance. Respect them and their right to live in the wilds of New Hampshire.

Source.