Sleuth of bears sighted near School Street and West Wheelock Street

by Anthony Robles | 10/14/16 12:30am

The fall term has not only brought with it the changing color of the leaves, but also an increased number of black bear sightings around campus — specifically a large female bear with three cubs.

Housemates Claire Apuan ’18 and Abby Livingston ’18 first spotted the sleuth of bears the weekend before the term started. Apuan said that she was just getting off the Dartmouth Coach when she received multiple text messages informing her that there were black bears roaming around her home.

Although Apuan had first heard that bears had been sighted near campus last spring while she was running in Pine Park, she was taken aback by the fact that they were roaming around her house.

“I was just like ‘Wait where am I living?’” Apuan said. “There are bears in my front yard.”

The next time Apuan saw the bears was last Saturday night as she was attempting to leave her house. While the bears had remained in the nearby trees the first time she had seen them, this time they were rummaging through the garbage can.

Livingston said that she has mainly seen the bears searching for food by knocking the garbage can down and going through empty containers of ice cream and Goldfish crackers. As a result, she and her housemates no longer keep the garbage can outside, taking it out only on days when the garbage truck does its rounds.

On the first night that the bears were spotted, one of Livingston’s housemates called the police in order for them to play their siren as an attempt to scare the bears away. Livingston said that when a policeman showed up, he only shined a light at the trees and said that the bears would go away, which they eventually did.

Apuan and Livingston’s house was not the only stop for the sleuth of bears last Saturday night. They also went to Ali Pattillo ’17’s off-campus apartment, located on West Wheelock Street.

Pattillo said that she was taking a shower when she suddenly received several texts from her friend Sally Portman ’17, who lives nearby, telling her that there were black bears roaming around outside. Pattillo quickly joined a group of people that had gathered to watch the bears, which were “in her dumpster, playing around in their own little world.”

In an attempt to get a better view of the bears, Pattillo ventured outside, but could not get a clear look at the bears without getting too close. Back inside the apartment, Pattillo watched the bears tear through the trash through a large window.

“It was like watching ‘Planet Earth,’” Pattillo said. “It was great.”

Before Pattillo saw the family of bears Saturday night, she had been warned by a member of the Class of 2016 to be wary of walking around School Street and West Street late at night, brushing it off as a joke until she saw them herself.

As a result of the increased sightings of black bears, students living in off-campus housing have formed a GroupMe in order to keep each other informed in case they spot the bears again. Pattillo said that she has heard from fellow classmates that the bears are considered state property and therefore cannot be moved unless they attack someone. For now, the bears will continue to remain in the area around Hanover.

According to the New Hampshire Fish and Game website, if someone encounters a bear they should keep their distance and make it aware of their presence by clapping, talking, singing or making other sounds. Although bears are capable of harming humans, they have not caused a fatality in New Hampshire since 1784.

“It seems like they’re very used to humans and aren’t afraid at all,” Pattillo said. “I’m sure everything will be fine unless you get in between the mama and her bears.”

Patillo is a member of The Dartmouth staff.