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Hunter kills black bear with bow and arrow in Hanson
Hunter kills black bear with bow and arrow in Hanson
Hunter kills black bear with bow and arrow in Hanson

Published on: 11/18/2023


A hunter has killed Pumpkin the bear with a bow and arrow in Hanson, according to MassWildlife.

Pumpkin is the black bear seen around Hanson in recent weeks, named for his penchant for taking ornamental pumpkins from residential homes.

MassWildlife biologist and bear expert David Wattles announced the news as part of a talk on living with black bears via Zoom on Wednesday.

"We received a harvest (killing) report that a bear had been taken last week (Monday, Nov. 6) in Hanson," Wattles said in an interview with The Patriot Ledger on Thursday morning. "Based on the size in the report of 300 pounds, we're very confident it is the same bear, but we can't 100% confirm that."

Beyond the size, he and others compared the bear that had been killed to images of Pumpkin that has been posted online. Wattles says the male bear was about 4 years old.

Hanson police said in a Nov. 2 Facebook post that they planned to kill Pumpkin after he killed livestock for the second time at the same Hanson home.

Despite the attacks on the animals, Pumpkin had not shown any aggressive behavior toward people, according to officials.

Hanson police said they and state Environmental Police had at least one situation in which they saw the bear but were unable to safely take a shot without endangering residents.

Wattles said there have been unconfirmed reports of a smaller bear seen in the Hanson area.

Despite months of sightings of bears throughout the South Shore since the summer, Wattles says all those sightings can be attributed to only a few bears, which, he noted, can travel extensive distances quickly.

The black bear hibernation season is underway, and Wattles said many of the known female bears have already started to den for the winter. It's possible that one male bear that has settled in the Carver-Plymouth area may have already done so, he said.

While MassWildlife was not involved in the police's decision to shoot the bear, officials from the agency, including Wattles, said relocation was not an option since Pumpkin had become accustomed to eating from yards and would likely do the same regardless of his location.

Pumpkin was killed during the second round of the bear hunting season, which began Nov. 6 and runs until Nov. 25. It allows using rifles, arrows and muzzleloaders. Even after that, bears won't be out of the woods yet: The final round of hunting for the season allows the use of shotguns from Nov. 27 to Dec. 9.

According to state regulations, anyone who kills a bear must report it either online or at a check station within 48 hours of the killing. They are also asked to extract a tooth and send it to MassWildlife so the agency can determine the bear's age.

Wattles said the hunter who killed Pumpkin has agreed to submit a tooth sample, but the bear's official age won't be known until late summer, he said.

Hunters are allowed only one bagging of a bear carcass during the calendar year, according to the rules. It is illegal to leave the body where it died without making a reasonable effort to retrieve it, according to information from MassWildlife.

The National Park Service estimates there are 750,000 black bears in the U.S.  

According to MassWildlife, the state's bear population is easily over 4,500, with an expected annual increase of 8%. The species has long been common in the central and western parts of the state and is slowly expanding east.

Wildlife officials spent months trying to get the word out to people along the South Shore new to living with bears that removing food sources such as birdfeeders from yards and installing electric fencing and other preventive measures to protect livestock are key to preventing a situation that puts bears like Pumpkin in the crosshairs of law enforcement.

"It starts with birdfeeders and people not minding seeing a bear in the yard," Wattles said. "It almost always ends badly for the bear."

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