Milton Police Chief Richard Krauss recently sounded a note of reality over the near hysteria of last week's bear sightings in Milton and Lebanon.
Asked what he was going to do or if he'd contacted Fish and Game or Forest Rangers about a "nuisance" bear roaming Townhouse Road he said simply, "Nothing, no."
"Taking down bird feeders, that's what they do," he said indifferently.
Suddenly, I went from a frenzied reporter trying to get the scoop on the anti-bear strategies by multiple law enforcement agencies to feeling just plain dumb.
Look, Krauss is the town's top cop. It's his job to ticket the speeders and catch the bad guys. It's not to put bears behind bars or truck 'em up to West Stewartstown where there's fewer humans.
He's concerned with the law, that's it.
And what laws did the bear break?
Criminal mischief? no intent.
Vandalism? no intent.
Scaring the bejesus out of some folk? no intent.
Walking into their trash area and taking some uneaten fruits, vegetables and cookies? He was hungry, what's it to you?
Disturbing the peace? He nary made a sound.
A woman in Lebanon on Schoolhouse Lane said a full grown bear reached up into one of her front yard trees, grabbed a suet brick, carefully removed the wrapper and threw it on the ground and left heading for Poplar Drive and Dixon Road.
Wait, I think we may have him here. Littering. That should be at least a fine.
But there's something I must tell you. Bears are often unfamiliar with our rules and regulations.
However, we don't have that excuse. The fact is we know better.
We know that New Hampshire and Maine Fish and Game advise homeowners to take action to reduce the chances of a bear visiting their home and avoid encounters with bears by taking a few simple precautions:
- Stop all bird feeding by April 1.
- Clean up any spilled birdseed and dispose of it in the trash.
- Secure all garbage in airtight containers inside a garage or adequate storage area, and put garbage out on the morning of pickup, not the night before.
- If using a dumpster, inform your dumpster company that you need a dumpster with metal locking tops and doors that are inaccessible to bears and other wildlife.
- Avoid putting meat or other food scraps in your compost pile.
- Don't leave pet food dishes outside overnight.
- Clean and store outdoor grills after each use.
- Finally, never feed bears!
And in reality, by leaving your bird feeder out you are basically feeding the bears.
So before we have a tragedy in which a pet dog is killed while attacking a bear trying to protect its stupid master who still has a bird feeder up, please, just take it down.
Protect your dog, and this wonderful, wild creature that inhabits our towns, too.
As Krauss said, "The bear's doing nothing wrong."
That would leave us to solve the problem, not exacerbate it.