A bear known for his love of pumpkins — and small livestock — in a Massachusetts town will be put down after he fed on one too many goats, police say.
Pumpkin the bear is regularly seen in Hanson, about 20 miles southeast of Boston, according to posts on Facebook. In fact, his presence is so common, Hanson police officers were stationed around town on Halloween to keep tabs on him as little ones trick-or-treated, officials said in an Oct. 31 post on Facebook.
“Please do not leave food unattended outside. Remember he likes Pumpkins!” police said in the post. “Please be careful and make noise. He should (wander) back into the woods.”
And while Pumpkin has never been aggressive toward humans, “he has been known to go after small livestock,” police said, adding that residents should secure their goats and chickens.
That’s exactly what the bear did on Wednesday, Nov. 1, police said in a subsequent Facebook post. Pumpkin barged right through an electric fence and reinforced barn doors and attacked a goat for the second time.
Massachusetts Environmental Police worked with Hanson police and determined Pumpkin “had gotten a taste for livestock” — and would have to be killed.
“Bears are very resourceful when they find a food source,” and “will often move around in the same area that they find a regular food (source),” police said in the post. “Unfortunately, the bear is becoming too comfortable in the area and has found too many food sources.”
Officers tracked Pumpkin for more than two hours after he killed the goat but couldn’t take a safe shot at him without endangering residents, police said.
“We know people will not be happy with this decision,” police said, adding that the department could not “just relocate a problem bear in this area.”
Hundreds of outraged people commented, calling the decision “devastating,” “ridiculous,” and plain “wrong.” Several begged police to consider other options while Pumpkin is still on the loose.
“Can’t relocate or don’t want to?” someone asked. “We should be able to (be) better than this! This is unacceptable….”
Some urged others to contact state wildlife officials and shared phone numbers and email addresses in the comments.
“Save Pumpkin!” another person said. “Please don’t kill an innocent bear!”
Some said they hoped Pumpkin would outsmart police, or save himself by going into hibernation for the winter soon.
Police reminded residents that multiple bears frequent the area and that officers “cannot and will not take out a bear just because it is in your yard.”
They urged residents to learn how to live with — and protect against — bears.
“However, if the bear is showing no fear of humans or is attempting to enter an area with livestock, please notify police immediately,” police said. “This is not just a Hanson issue. Black bears can travel up to 15 miles in a day.”
Hanson police notified nearby departments of Pumpkin, officials said in the post.
“We are disappointed that the situation has led to this decision,” police said. “We again, ask that you take some time to learn about living with bears as they have now taken up residence in our area. We do not want this to become a recurring problem each year.”