Black bears safer to admire at a distance

Black bears have become common enough in our area to be considered a nuisance.

They are beautiful animals, attractive and fun to watch, but destructive of bird feeders, beehives and berry patches. They are generally shy and nonaggressive, unless mama bear is protecting her cubs, but there have been few recorded instances of bear attacks.

Bears were pretty much eliminated in New Hampshire by the early 1800s when most of the state had been cleared for farming. As the forests came back, so did the bears – along with moose and beavers, bobcats and fishers. Wolves apparently haven’t made it back yet, although there are coyotes. I saw my first local bear in the mid-1980s.

Bears apparently were a problem in the early days of settlement, however. The Lyndeborough history of 1905 tells a great story of Sally Bevins and a bear.

Edward Bevins Jr., a hero of the Revolutionary War, was said to have been the first settler in what is now the Perham Corner section of town – the area along Center Road up the hill from Fitch’s. He lived on the farm now owned by David Melton, formerly Woodmont Orchards. Back then, that section was called Bevins’ Corner in his honor.

The town history relates:

"Sally Bevins was accustomed to assist her neighbors at hay-making and harvesting. And once, on her return home, she heard her pig squealing vociferously. Satisfied as to the cause of it, she seized a good, stout fire brand and sped to the rescue. She overhauled the burdened foe, engaged him with her brand, and though his claws cruelly tore the flesh from her shoulder and upper arm, so that she carried the marks to her grave, she yet proved the victor, routed the bear and saved her pork."

Farm wives are like that.

While I have heard of bears stealing lambs or small animals, I have never heard another account with a pig, but it could have been a small one.

I have lost several bird feeders when I forgot to bring them in. I do like to watch birds, but a very large bear walked through our yard recently – a much larger bear than I want to annoy, or attract back – so my feeders are inside – as the authorities keep telling us.

And I will continue to watch bears through the screen door.

Keep up with the past with Another Perspective, which runs monthly in The Telegraph. Jessie Salisbury can be reached at 654-9704 or