1 of 3 cubs orphaned by famous bear's death killed by bus

In this April 13, 2018, file photo, Andrew Timmins, the bear project leader with the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, steps over a tranquilized female black bear as Nancy Comeau, right, of the USDA wildlife services, keeps a hand on the bear after it had been moved onto her side in Hanover, N.H. The bear, tagged and fitted with a tracking collar, was later relocated to far northern New Hampshire. But in May 2019, the bear returned to her home turf in Hanover. In spring 2020, the bear is preparing to emerge from hibernation in her den with three new cubs. (Jennifer Hauck/The Valley News via AP, File)

One of three black bear cubs orphaned by the recent death of their famous mother was hit and killed by a bus in New Hampshire, authorities said.

The 30-pound (14-kilogram) cub was struck Monday afternoon after it ran out onto Route 10 into the bus, in West Lebanon, said Michael Hinsley, deputy fire chief in nearby Hanover.

The cub was similar to an eight-month-old cub that was rescued on Aug. 31, which was determined to the offspring of the mother, known as Mink.

Ben Kilham, who runs a bear rehabilitation centre in Lyme and took in the rescued cub, buried the remains of the cub in the crash. He told the Valley News, "it was one of Mink's."

Andrew Timmins, New Hampshire Fish and Game black bear project leader, agreed Tuesday, saying the cub was hit very close to where the first one was successfully captured. "It's really unfortunate," he said.

The status of the third cub isn't known, although authorities are investigating a report that a cub was hit by a vehicle last week around the same location.

"Bears can absorb a hard hit and survive, however, that obviously applies less to a small bear," Timmins said. "Because we don't know how hard the cub was hit last week, we lack the ability to predict its survival."

Hinsley said he would continue to monitor the area and work with residents and landowners to find the cub.

Officials had been searching for the cubs since Mink was found dead in late August. She had gained fame when New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu spared her life in 2017 and when she travelled thousands of miles in a looping route through Vermont and New Hampshire to return to her home territory after being relocated to near the Canadian border.

Mink had been set to be euthanized, along with three of her earlier offspring, in 2017 after repeated problems with them feeding from trash and bird feeders culminated in two bears entering a home in Hanover. Sununu instead ordered them to be moved to far northern New Hampshire. One of the yearlings was killed within weeks by a hunter in Quebec.

Mink wasn't captured then because she left town to mate and later returned with four cubs in 2018. She was fitted with a tracking collar in June of that year and moved about 120 miles (190 kilometres) north, but returned to the Hanover area in 2019.

-- this report by the Associated Press was first published Sept. 15, 2020.

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