Black bear Mink found dead in Lebanon

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 8/25/20 10:26pm

5-28-19-bear-courtesygeorgemorris

 Mink, pictured in the winter of 2018, could often be spotted roaming the Hanover area.

Source: Courtesy of George Morris

Mink, the female black bear who achieved local and national fame for her yearly treks back to her Hanover home, has died, the Valley News reported Tuesday evening. 

The bear, described as “relocation-proof” by Hanover town manager Julia Griffin, had an affinity for the Upper Valley, and some residents seemed to take to her as well. Affectionately named after the Mink Brook nature preserve, Mink traversed thousands of miles on two separate occasions to return to Hanover after New Hampshire Fish and Game officials tried to relocate her near the Canadian border. 

The bear’s body was found near the Mascoma River in Lebanon, and her latest round of cubs — a trio born in January — have not yet been located. Hanover deputy fire chief Michael Hinsley told the Valley News on Tuesday that Mink appeared to have broken one of her forelegs. He suspected that she died after being hit by a vehicle, according to the Valley News.

Mink made her first appearance in Hanover in the fall of 2016 and returned to the area each year thereafter. In 2017, New Hampshire Fish and Game had planned to capture and euthanize Mink and her cubs — a decision that prompted swift public outcry, with over 13,000 people signing a petition to save the bears. Gov. Chris Sununu ultimately ordered the family of bears to be relocated to northern New Hampshire instead. 

In 2018, however, Mink returned to Hanover with four new cubs, and, after yet another relocation attempt, she made the same voyage back to Hanover the following year. 

According to information from the tracking collar she wore, Mink walked upwards of 30 miles a day, crossing the New Hampshire-Vermont border multiple times, on her way home. Griffin noted in 2019 that there had been residents on Carter Street in Hanover who fed Mink and other bears. Mink traveled almost directly back to this area, Hinsley said at the time.

As of late July, 11 bears have been spotted in town this summer, including a juvenile seen lounging in a tree behind the Parkhurst Administration building. Several of the bears spotted around Hanover were believed to be Mink’s daughters.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.