SALISBURY — A state official believes that the black bear recently spotted on Rabbit Road may have been the victim of a fatal auto accident Thursday morning.
Rabbit Road resident Tricia McNeil photographed a young male black bear while driving home late last month and sightings have been reported to town officials as well as the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife since mid-September.
Fisheries & Wildlife Information and Education Chief Marion Larson said a 200-pound, male black bear was struck and killed by a either a car or a truck on Route 110 in Salisbury at roughly 2 a.m. Thursday. No one was injured in the accident and the vehicle sustained no damage, according to Salisbury police.
“It looks like the bear had been sideswiped,” Larson said.
The dead bear was estimated to have been 2 or 3years old and was turned over to the state Environmental Police, which also removed a tooth and hair samples.
“They will be turning that over to us because the tooth will help us find out exactly how old the bear was,” Larson said. “But, based on the size of the animal, we estimate that he was 2 or 3 years old.”
Larson said a 2- or 3-year-old male black bear is often at a stage where he his looking for his own territory.
“We’re not sure how long he’s been in Salisbury but a bear who was that far east is generally a male bear sort of what I would call “a teenager,’” Larson said. “He is trying to figure out where his territory is because he has been kicked out of his den a couple of years ago and they can wander for many miles. He could be a bear who came down for a New Hampshire as far as we know.”
Larson added that the bear had not been previously tagged and his apparent recent residency in Salisbury was not a source of serious concern to the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife.
“Some people might ask why we didn’t come out in remove it from the area,” Larson said. “We’re only going to capture bears when they are in highly densely populated areas like downtown Worcester or Lawrence or Lowell, where they cannot get out of that people habitat on their own very easily or safely. Salisbury does not qualify for that kind of a situation and. if we were removing all the bears from Salisbury, we would be removing them from everywhere. There really is no reason for that because, in most cases, they do fine. But accidents do happen.”
Bears living among humans is not an unusual situation, according to Larson.
“There are some situations where bears have been living in some of the smaller cities,” Larson said. “Sometimes, they are even hibernating under some people’s porches. They are just like skunks and raccoons and deer. It’s just that they are larger and they are expanding their range.”
For more information about bears in Massachusetts, visit www.mass.gov/bears.
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.