Pumpkin the bear to be euthanized, if they catch it

Local News

Police have reported multiple bear sightings in and around Hanson. One of those bears, Pumpkin, will have to be euthanized after killing livestock.

A photo of a black bear in a grassy, wooded area of Massachusetts.
Pumpkin, a black bear spotted in and near Hanson, Massachusetts, killed two goats. Now police say they have to euthanize the bear. Courtesy of the Hanson Police Department

Police are searching for a bear that has reportedly killed livestock in Hanson and said they will have to euthanize the animal when it’s found, according to a Facebook post from Hanson police.

Named Pumpkin because it also likes to eat pumpkins, police said the bear has been known to go after livestock and this week killed two goats and tried to kill a third one, all located in the same residential barn.

Hanson Police Chief Michael Miksch said the department consulted with bear experts at MassWildlife before coming to the conclusion to euthanize the black bear. 

“Once they’ve gotten livestock and they know it’s a spot for food, they’re gonna keep coming back until there’s no more food there,” Miksch said. 

He also noted that the bear in question got past an electric fence and entered the barn through secured doors, meaning the bear could potentially enter other buildings. 

On Wednesday night police tried for more than two hours to put Pumpkin down but were unsuccessful because the bear was found in a residential area. Putting the bear down in an area with residents would put them in danger, police added.

Miksch said they are not actively hunting the bear at the moment, but said people should call police immediately if the bear is “showing no fear of humans or is attempting to enter an area with livestock.” He said euthanization is the only option, and it would be irresponsible to tranquilize it and move the bear to another area just to cause problems somewhere else.

Though Pumpkin is the only bear currently at risk of being put down, it isn’t the only bear in the surrounding area. Miksch said there is one more bear that they know of in Hanson — both Pumpkin and the other bear are black bears, though the latter is smaller than the nearly 300-pound Pumpkin. 

Reports of black bear sightings started trickling into Hanson’s police department, as well as other area law enforcement offices, as early as August. Miksch said it’s possible that Pumpkin may be traveling to other nearby towns, and police believe it traverses down Route 14 to Pembroke. 

According to MassWildlife, the number of black bears has increased in the state since the 1970s, mainly established in the western part of the commonwealth. But these bears are expanding farther east, with about 4,500 black bears statewide. 

Police said black bears are rarely harmful toward humans, and even Pumpkin hasn’t shown aggression toward humans. But because of the uptick in bear sightings, Miksch urged residents in Hanson and the surrounding communities to secure and get rid of food sources as much as possible so that they can safely live among the bears. 

“It’s an unfortunate and regrettable situation that it’s come to this,” Miksch said. “But in the future, this area and state has to learn to live with the bears. We as people need to do better. I’m hoping that people will start to learn and I don’t have to do this again.”

Miksch recommends that residents visit MassWildlife’s website, which includes helpful tips and videos on how to live around black bears safely. Those tips include removing bird feeders, securing trash, and feeding pets indoors.