By Lloyd Jones
JACKSON — The Jackson 5 are creating quite a stir within this community this summer. People have been clamoring to get a glimpse of these local celebrates, and some have even been lucky enough to be paid a visit or two by the group.
We're not talking about Michael, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon and Jackie Jackson — the original Jackson 5 of popular music fame.
The new version of the Jackson 5 is a mother bear and her four cubs, all from this year. The bruins all look healthy and are going all over town together. They've even starred in a couple of movies — well, youtube videos (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTmwN9R76EM), which are quickly becoming fan favorites.
Thus far the mother and her cubs have not created any problems according to Lauren Synnott, animal control officer for Jackson, who is well aware of the group and said there may be another group posing as the Jackson 5.
"There are at least two mamas with four cubs in Jackson," Synnott said. "One of them has older cubs (two new this year and two from last year). The older group have been seen around Green Hill (Road) and the mama (with the four cubs from this year) have been mostly in the Thorn Hill area."
Andy Timmins, bear biologist for N.H. Fish and Game, is familiar with the mother bear and the four first-year cubs. Timmins said last year the mother was captured in Jackson and relocated to Pittsburg in Northern New Hampshire, over 90 miles away. She was tagged (in her left ear) and also had a radio collar placed around her neck.
Remarkably the mother, perhaps smarter than the average bear, found her way back to Jackson last fall and went to den for the winter and had four cubs.
"We handled that bear in her den this winter," Timmins said, explaining the collar was removed. "It's pretty amazing that we caught it, relocated it and it came right back."
Timmins said the bear and her cubs appear to be doing well.
"That's what we heard," he said. "We have not received any complaints about them."
A mother giving birth to four cubs in the same litter and all not only surviving but also flourishing is uncommon.
"I don't want to quite say it's rare," Timmins said, "it seems like almost every year we get a report of a mother with four cubs. It's pretty rare in the natural environment, but where we see it mostly is where bears have access to human food."
Timmins said businesses and residences in Jackson are doing a better job of bear-proofing their dumpsters, decks and homes.
Last summer was a record one for bear complaints with spring arriving over a month early due to an unusually short winter. This summer the complaints have been much less.
"It's been almost a night and day difference this summer compared to last," Timmins said. "Last year was tough due to a lack of natural food. We had a record number of complaints. The big difference is we have (natural) food this summer."
Synnott did receive a call about a bear two weeks ago that had gotten into the dining room at The Inn at Thorn Hill.
"When I went in, it was crawling the walls," Synnott said. "It needed a way to get out. I opened a window and it went right out."
Synnott believes that cub may have been a 2-year-old that had a sibling which was caught and relocated last summer after the mother bear had been shot.
"Last year was a really bad year (for bear complaints)," she said.
It is illegal to intentionally feed bears in New Hampshire. Intentional feeding can create problems within residential areas and can result in fines. It also may threaten the life of the bear, if it becomes a nuisance animal as a result of this feeding. It's against the law to feed bears and you can get up to a $1,000 fine.
"People sometimes think with their hearts, and it really doesn't help the bears," Sgt. Brian Abrams, of N.H. Fish and Game, said.
To avoid attracting bears to your property, take these precautions with bird feeders, garbage and grills:
• The only way to avoid bears from visiting bird-feeders in backyards and on porches and decks is to remove the bird-feeders or make them inaccessible.
• People are also reminded to rake up any seed from the ground and to store unused seed in a secure building
• Trash that is brought to the curb the night before trash pickup is an easily accessible source of food for bears.
• Once bears access your garbage, they may become bolder and begin visiting the area during the day in search of food.
• People should wait until the morning of trash pickup to bring their trash to the curb and should store trash in a secure building that can't be opened by a bear.
• Garbage dumpsters should not be overfilled so they are able to be closed and latched at all times.
• If you are experiencing problems with a bear accessing your dumpster, you can install a bear-proof lid, store the dumpster behind a fence or increase trash pickup.
• If possible, store grills inside when not in use.
• Remember to burn off any food residue, dispose of wrappers and clean the grilling area after use.
According to Timmins, the New Hampshire black bear population remains stable, with a statewide population of approximately 5,000 bears.
"Above all, the public must understand that it is illegal to intentionally feed bears in New Hampshire," said Timmins. "Intentional feeding can cause problems in residential areas and can result in fines. It also threatens the life of the bear, which may have to be destroyed if it becomes a nuisance animal habituated to human food sources. It's unfortunately often true that 'A fed bear is a dead bear.' So if you love bears, don't feed them."