JACKSON — Citizens going to the Jackson Post Office on Thursday morning got to a see a little bit of nature up close. A bear cub had climbed into the tree next to the post office and drew a number of people wanting to take pictures and make sure the bruin was OK.
“We’ve had a couple of yearlings or young cubs in the area for a few weeks,” Jackson Police Chief Chris Perley said by phone Thursday afternoon. “They’ve been hanging out in the vicinity of Autumn Nomad (Cakes and Cafe) and the Whitney Center.”
Perley said the bears have been behaving themselves.
“On the Fourth of July we probably had 3,000 people in town and there were the two cubs standing on the dumpster (that’s bear-proof at the bakery),” he said. “We’ve really not had many bear complaints this spring or early this summer. We do know that they like the sight and smell of garbage, but I think people, for the most part, have been doing a nice job of making sure their garbage is properly secured.”
Perley added: “Bear problems are a people and trash problem, it’s not something we can blame on a bear.”
According to state Fish and Game, bears have a scent range of up to 18 miles away.
Patrol Officer Ryan McDonald got the crowd at the post office to dissipate and a few minutes later, the cub came down the tree and scampered away.
“I think everything worked out well,” Perley said.
Asked why he thought the cub was at the post office, Perley quickly answered, “Because bears can’t text. They don’t have thumbs.”
For the past two decades, Fish and Game and Wildlife Services have been heavily vested in an active bear education campaign designed to prevent conflicts and the unnecessary loss of bears. This campaign has included the production and distribution of multiple bear education materials, bear abatement equipment loans, media outreach, a toll-free bear complaint phone line, public presentations, the hiring of summer bear technicians dedicated to conflict mitigation, and a huge investment of staff time and effort directed at preventing and resolving bear-human conflicts.
"New Hampshire has one of the best bear-human conflict mitigation programs in the Northeast and probably the country," said Mark Ellingwood, chief of Fish and Game's Wildlife Division. "Our efforts have been particularly effective because of the Department's partnership with USDA Wildlife Services. We are one of the few Northeastern states that have stabilized bear-human conflicts."
On the town of Jackson’s website, there is a link to bear safety. The town offers the following tips:
• Even if it looks friendly or cute, do not go near a bear. Never approach a bear, especially when you are holding food. Never get between a bear and her cubs or a bear and a food source.
• Secure garbage at all times. It can be put in a bear-proof dumpster or taken to the town transfer station for disposal (open every day except Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon-6 p.m.). Check with your lodging establishment to find out where they would like your garbage to be stored/disposed of.
• Do not store trash inside near an open window or door. Bears could try to gain entry because they can smell it from the outside. Keep lids on trash cans.
• It is against state law to feed bears. Do not leave food or garbage outside, and please do not feed the birds between April 1 and Dec. 1. Once a bear finds a source of food, it will continue to come back to that location for years to come looking for more.
• Feeding bears puts humans, pets and livestock, and the bears themselves at risk. A fed bear is a dead bear! So if you love the bears, please do not feed them.
• Bears will break into cars if they smell food in them. Do not leave food or garbage in your vehicle. Bears can do an incredible amount of damage to a vehicle searching for food or garbage.
• Do not let your dog run at large. It could chase after a bear and get lost and/or get hurt by a bear. Dogs should be kept on a leash or under the direct supervision of their owners at all times.
• Let grills burn long enough to burn off any food remnants left on them. Close grills when you are done with them and pull them inside a garage/shed if possible.
• If you come upon a bear, make loud noises and back away slowly. Loud noises are oftentimes enough to scare off a bear. Don’t make eye contact with the bear.”
If you have questions about bear-related problems, you can get advice by calling a toll-free number coordinated jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department: (888) 749-2327 (1-888-SHY-BEAR).