LYME, N.H. (WHDH) — It’s an adorable image – bear cubs looking cute and cuddly – even taking a bottle.
Ben Kilham cares for the cubs in a special rehab facility he built in New Hampshire. Their moms were killed when they got too close to civilization – getting hit by a car or shot by someone who felt threatened.
“These cubs, once they’ve lost their mother, they’ve lost any power they have to re-enter a community,” said Kilham.
The black bear population is exploding in Massachusetts and New Hampshire — and that means more of them showing up in places people don’t expect them.
Running by a strip mall in Keene, New Hampshire. And this bear in Massachusetts.
“There’s a black bear running right by the house!” said a homeowner.
Some of these adult bears are caught, tranquilized and moved to safe locations. Others end up dying, and that means more orphaned cubs that need Kilham’s help.
“Have you ever had any bad encounters with the bears, or where you felt you were in danger?” asked 7’s Keke Vencill.
“No,” said Kilham.
Kilham and his sister bottle fed this cub and he’s not afraid of people. Look how close he got to our photographer. Kilham says the bear is dependent on humans. But that can be dangerous for the bears and for people. Kilham works to change that behavior, bringing out the cub’s wild side.
After the bears are able to feed themselves in the enclosure, they’re released in this gated 8-acre piece of property where they can roam free.
After about a year of living here, Kilham drives them into the deep woods and sets them free, where hopefully they’ll live safely in the wild. Kilham is licensed by the state of New Hampshire to do this work. He says he’s released 150 adolescent bears back to the wild over the past 25 years.
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