Bear attack no reason for alarm, official says

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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – The recent news of a black bear fatally mauling a 6-year-old girl in a Tennessee forest may have some New Hampshire residents feeling a little nervous about the state’s 5,000 bears.

It’s spring, and bears are out and about, looking for food. But although they should be treated as unpredictable wild animals, there’s no need to be alarmed, said Andy Timmins, the Fish and Game Department’s bear project leader. Bears usually avoid people, he said.

The last time a person died from a bear attack in New Hampshire was 200 years ago, he said.

“People don’t need to fear bears, but they should keep their distance,” Timmins said.

He said the best way to prevent property damage and reduce concerns about safety is to keep yards or campsites free of food, garbage, birdseed and pet foods.

Feeding bears may be illegal in New Hampshire under a rule that went into effect last year. It prohibits the purposeful or inadvertent feeding of black bears following a determination by Fish and Game that the feeding increases the likelihood of human injury or property damage.

Meanwhile, a Keene woman called police early Monday to report a prowler was in her house. At first, Debra Noyes thought it was her son and his friend, then realized that her son was actually upstairs sleeping. Then her dog began barking and she heard the door slam.

When police got to the house, they saw bird feeders askew, large prints in the lawn and paw prints on the front window. They determined the intruder was a brown bear from the woods, looking for food. No one was hurt.

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