Stuck in Vermont: Talking With Ben, Debbie and Ethan Kilham of Kilham Bear Center in Lyme, N.H. | Stuck in Vermont | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Stuck in Vermont: Talking With Ben, Debbie and Ethan Kilham of Kilham Bear Center in Lyme, N.H.

Episode 670

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Published August 11, 2022 at 7:30 a.m.
Updated August 17, 2022 at 10:07 a.m.


For almost 30 years, Ben Kilham has been rehabilitating orphaned, injured and abandoned black bear cubs and releasing them back into the wild — over 400 bears and counting. You may have read one of Ben’s books, heard one of his 600-plus talks, seen him in the IMAX 3D film Pandas or watched one of his many media appearances.

Ben has dedicated his life to educating humans about bears, and he has changed how people think about them. This is partially thanks to his lifelong relationship with a 26-year-old black bear named Squirty that Ben raised from a cub. Squirty has had 11 litters of cubs in the wild since her release, and Ben continues to track and observe her. Ben and Squirty have shown that black bears are social animals that can lead healthy lives as wild bears after release.

Ben and his wife, Deb, run the Kilham Bear Center in Lyme, N.H. The center is not open to the public, but it receives black bear cubs from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut. The center is a family affair: Ben’s sister Phoebe has helped in different capacities over the years, and Ben’s nephew Ethan is its only full-time employee.

Ethan is the primary caregiver for the cubs, and he shares his cinematic adventures walking with the bears in the woods on Instagram. His popular account, @kilhambearcenter, has more than 59,000 followers, and he often takes the time to respond to the thousands of comments with educational answers.

In Vermont, clashes between humans and bears have been on the rise recently. Ben and his family share some tips for ways we can peacefully coexist with these majestic creatures. Here are some additional tips for living with bears from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

Music: The Mini Vandals, “Swoop”

Filming date: 7/30/22

This episode of Stuck in Vermont was supported by New England Federal Credit Union.