CENTER HARBOR, N.H. — A bear attack in Center Harbor likely was sparked by a neighbor’s history of feeding bears, New Hampshire Fish and Game officials said Monday.
The 55-year-old woman was not seriously injured.
Jacqueline Berghorn went out on her back deck around 9:30 p.m. Sunday to see why her dog was barking when she was attacked from behind after her dog had attacked the bear and she had turned to run back inside. Officials say she felt the bear’s front paws on her back and shoulders and was knocked to the deck floor before the bear ran away.
Berghorn was not badly injured and was released from the hospital later that evening.
Officials say the bear will have to be euthanized because neighbors had fed it and it has become used to seeking food from area residents. Several other incidents have been reported involving an aggressive bear that killed backyard chickens and injured a dog nearby, the department said. Bears also have been reported visiting area bird feeders, which the department encourages people take down between April 1 and Dec. 1 to keep the animals away.
“The surest way to prevent bear/human conflicts is to keep your yard free of food attractants. This helps prevent property damage by bears and keeps bears from becoming nuisance animals,” said Fish and Game Bear Project Leader Andrew Timmins. “The sad truth is, a fed bear is a dead bear.”
Bear attacks on humans are extremely rare, he said. The last recorded bear fatality in New Hampshire was in 1784, Timmons said.
Last summer in Conway a man threw a bag of garbage into a Dumpster, startling a bear inside that scrambled over the man as it climbed out, Timmons said.
Last year a hunter in Maine was attacked by a bear after he had shot it. The man was hospitalized, but he recovered.
Just last month, a woman who was carrying a bag of garbage in New York’s Catskill Mountains was knocked down by a bear. The animal held her down with its paw, grabbed the bag and walked away.
The last bear fatality in Vermont was in the early 1940s when a hunter approached a bear he had shot and thought was dead, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department said. He was killed by the bear.