Close encounter with bear in Bartlett

A large mother bear and her cubs created a stir on Jennie Lane in Bartlett on Sunday.

A large mother bear and her cubs created a stir on Jennie Lane in Bartlett on Sunday. BOB KEBLER—Courtesy

By DAYMOND STEER

Conway Daily Sun

Published: 06-11-2024 11:00 AM

A Bartlett man’s attempt to take some garbage to the Bartlett/Jackson Transfer Station on Sunday led to an unnerving encounter with a hungry mother bear and her two cubs, along with a major response from authorities.

Bob Kebler of 9 Jennie Lane said he was loading his truck with garbage from the garage at around 1 p.m. Jennie Lane is off of Skyline Drive in Intervale north of Hurricane Mountain Road.

“I was sort of looking at the ground and when I got to my truck, I threw the two bags in the back, and I threw them right onto three bears, a mother and cubs,” said Kebler. “The bears didn’t know I was there and I didn’t know the bears were there. We were both petrified.”

However, the mother bear soon went from afraid to angry.

Kebler said what “saved” him was the cubs jumping off the truck and running up a tree, which he said distracted their mom for long enough for Kebler to run 20 feet into the garage. But he said with the mother bear growling and hissing at him, he couldn’t shut the garage door because he couldn’t get close enough to the controls.

Kebler tried to scare her off by making noise and threatening gestures with an iron pipe, but he said that only seemed to anger her further. Luckily, Kebler had his cellphone with him, and he called 911.

Bartlett police and state police quickly responded.

Kebler said when the officers arrived, the bear finally moved away from the garage.

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He said state police shot at it with a bean bag gun, but that only scared her off temporarily.

Kebler believes the police were already aware of the bear because it had recently ransacked a nearby house.

“I guess it was a rogue bear,” he said.

Bartlett Police Chief Chris Keaton said police on Saturday had responded to a complaint on Skyline Drive, saying a bear was in someone’s house. Police didn’t see that bear but found a broken screen on a rear window, which was how the bear apparently escaped.

On Sunday, after local and state police arrived, wildlife biologists from N.H. Department of Fish and Game showed up. During this time, the mother bear was circling the home so she could remain close to her cubs. who were in a tree. The biologists, who were armed with tranquilizer dart guns, took up positions on Kebler’s porch.

When the mother bear came within striking distance, a biologist fired a dart at her, but she scooted up the tree where the cubs were.

The fire department then responded with a hook and ladder truck to get the bears down. People were holding net below the tree in case the bears fell.

However, that was not necessary because authorities darted the bear and brought her down the ladder. Then they secured her and drove her way.

One of the cubs that was darted was injured in the attempt to get it out of the tree, said Kebler. The other cub was captured Monday. Both cubs were taken to the Ben Kilham Bear Center in Lyme.

Kebler, who said he’s seen bears in his backyard for 30 years, told the Sun his takeaway from Sunday’s episode was to remember that bears are wild “and you should kind of pay attention when they’re around the neighborhood.”