Thank you for visiting the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department website. NH Fish and Game



Unprotected Livestock = Orphaned Bear Cubs

The shooting of female bears as a result of conflicts with poultry has become the leading cause of cub orphaning in New Hampshire.


A sow bear, accompanied by three cubs, was recently shot by a New Hampshire homeowner at a backyard chicken coop. New Hampshire Fish and Game Department biologists caught two of the cubs, but have been unsuccessful to date in catching the third.  These cubs were brought to a New Hampshire-based bear rehabilitator, where they will be held until they are capable of surviving in the wild on their own.


As more New Hampshire residents raise chickens in their back yards, more bears and other wildlife are being shot as they attempt to feed on this readily available food source.  The shooting of female bears as a result of conflicts with poultry has become the leading cause of cub orphaning in New Hampshire.  During recent years, 10-20 cubs have been orphaned for this reason each year.  Male and yearling bears (without cubs) are also shot in an attempt to mitigate poultry conflicts each spring and summer.


State law (RSA 207:26) allows a person to kill “any unprotected bird or wild animal which the person finds in the act of doing actual and substantial damage to poultry, crops, domestic animals, or the person’s property.”  The NH Fish and Game Department strongly recommends that the public to take a different approach, one that is beneficial to both the state’s wildlife and a homeowner’s property and resources:


Electric fencing is the most effective means of keeping bears and other wildlife out of chicken coops and other areas where livestock is contained.  Bears are readily tempted by easy and high-quality foods, which include chickens and poultry grain.  In New Hampshire, many chickens are free-ranging or insecurely housed and thereby are vulnerable to predation.  A properly constructed electric fence will typically prevent coop entry by bears and other wildlife.  Furthermore, and in contrast to shooting, electric fencing represents a lasting solution to wildlife conflicts, insomuch as it will protect livestock for years to come. Electric poultry (and bee) fence packages are readily available in the state.  Be responsible, go electric!



Learn More