File Photo - Flickr Commons - Not actual bear

Jun 15, 2017 3:24 PM

Fish and Game: Woman caught feeding bear out of her hand, NH couple charged

STODDARD — New Hampshire Fish and Game arrested a Stoddard couple caught feeding bears after allegedly watching the woman give a bear food out of her hand.

Conservation officers charged Richard Whitney, 71, and Sandra Sherman, 69, with the intentional feeding of bears after receiving multiple reports of nuisance bears in the area of Shedd Hill Road.

“In addition to conditioning the bears to see people as a food source, I find it very sad that Whitney and Sherman have no regard for their neighbors," Lt. David Walsh said. "They continue to feed bears even though they know how upsetting it is to just about everybody in the neighborhood. This selfish disregard for their neighbors has apparently led to many folks not being able to enjoy their own property. In addition, the disregard for the law cannot be tolerated. The public’s safety is at risk when bears lose their fear of humans."

In 2006, Fish and Game enacted a new law prohibiting the feeding of bears or any activity that attracts bears because the activity might result in injury to a person, damage to property or create a public nuisance.

Officers began receiving reports of bear feeding in 2011, which resulted in a letter being sent to Whitney describing the law and requesting that he stop such activity.

From 2013 to 2014, Fish and Game began receiving complaints of unnatural amounts of bears in the area of Whitney and Sherman's residence.

An officer went to speak with Whitney in the spring of 2014, when the officer observed four bears in the general vicinity of the residence, including one feeding on a large pile of sunflower seeds at the front door, Fish and Game said.

Fish and Game charged Whitney at that time and he pleaded guilty in Keene District Court.

This spring, anonymous complaints started to come in alleging that Whitney and Sherman were feeding bears again.

Officers investigated these claims and observed Sherman feeding a bear out of her hand at their residence in April, Fish and Game said. Officers allegedly observed eight to 10 bears in the yard as they attempted to make contact with Whitney and Sherman.

Those who complained of the added bear activity reportedly lived nearby Whitney and Sherman.

"The complainants are upset that they cannot enjoy the neighborhood or even their own backyards," Walsh said.

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