by Ellen Cronin
Trouble is brewing - make that bruin - at Mittersill.
An outbreak of bear complaints in the resort area adjacent to Cannon Mountain has prompted police to remind residents to take precautions.
"Anything they can smell as food, they're going to go after," warned Police Chief Mark Montminy, explaining that black bears from dens inside Franconia Notch have been wandering into town to eat out for a change - especially out of garbage cans.
In recent weeks, he has seen evidence bears have torn through trash containers, plucked a garbage bag out of a parked vehicle - even tried to break into a house.
Most of the incidents happen in the middle of the night, but the house incident took place in broad daylight last week on McGowan Hill Road. A bear spotted food on a windowsill and proceeded to rip off a screen in an effort to get at it. Fortunately, the window behind the screen thwarted the burglary attempt.
"Guess he thought he could get to the bananas," Montminy observed with a grin. "But he couldn't."
Turning serious, Montminy discouraged residents from trying to throw trespassing bears off their properties. "Stay inside; he'll eventually go away," he advises. "Or, if he doesn't, give us a call. And if a bear becomes a real problem, we'll notify Fish and Game."
To discourage the animals from helping themselves to some snacks, Montminy urges residents to keep garbage inside and to take in bird feeders. Also, he warns residents against leaving food in vehicles - bears have been known to rip their way into cars if they catch a scent of something to eat inside.
The most basic piece of advice - which brings to mind a sign from Yogi Bear cartoons - is: "Do Not Feed The Bears."
Bears frolicking on the slopes of Cannon may delight tourists in Franconia Notch, but bears used to getting a free lunch from humans can make things dangerous for visitors and locals alike.
"Bears are wild animals," said Montminy, "and they should be treated as such."