In the past year, nearly 2,500 black bear sightings were reported in Connecticut.
In Middlebury, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection website notes three sightings since April 29, 2011. In Woodbury, one black bear sighting was reported.
The number of sightings may increase this year as bears come out of hibernation and their population growth continues to increase, stated the Connecticut DEEP in a press release.
The DEEP reminds residents to take steps to reduce contact and conflicts with black bears.
"These steps become increasingly important as bears emerge from winter hibernation looking for food and because the state’s bear population is growing,” the press release detailed.
The growing population is estimated by the DEEP at about 500 bears.
So far this spring, the DEEP said they have already received several reports of bears traveling through populated areas and coming into contact with humans and domestic animals. “When bears emerge from their winter dens, natural foods are scarce and, as a result, bears are often attracted to human-provided foods found near homes.”
Susan Frechette, DEEP Deputy Commissioner stated, “Most conflicts occur when bears are attracted close to homes by food sources that are easy for them to access, such as bird seed, garbage, and residue on grills. This can lead to more serious problems, including habituated bears that have lost their fear of humans.”
Household garbage should be stored in closed garages or sheds, states the DEEP or in cases where that can not be done, trash receptacles should be cleaned with ammonia to discourage pilfering by bears and other animals. Other items that can attract bears include pet and livestock foods, sweet or fatty food scraps in compost piles, and fruit-bearing trees.
Although uncommon, the DEEP states that bears may attack and kill livestock, such as sheep, goats, pigs, and fowl. “They also can destroy unprotected beehives. One of the best precautions for these problems is well-maintained electric fencing. Other recommendations for livestock growers include moving animals into sheds or barns at night, keeping feed contained, keeping animals as distant from forested areas as possible, and using guard dogs.”
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Tips to Avoid Problems With Black Bears:
- Never feed bears.
- Take down, clean, and put away birdfeeders by late March. Store the feeders until late fall. Clean up spilled seed from the ground.
- Store garbage in secure, airtight containers inside a garage or storage area. Double bagging and adding ammonia to cans and bags will reduce odors that attract bears. Periodically clean garbage cans with ammonia to reduce residual odor. Garbage for pickup should be put outside the morning of collection and not the night before.
- Avoid leaving pet food outdoors at night.
- Keep barbecue grills clean. Store grills inside a garage or shed.
- Avoid placing meat scraps or sweet foods in compost piles.
- Protect beehives, livestock, and berry bushes from bears with electric fencing.
- Supervise dogs at all times when outside. Keep dogs on a leash when walking and hiking. A roaming dog might be perceived as a threat to a bear or its cubs.
If you encounter a bear while hiking, the DEEP recommends that you make your presence known by yelling or making other loud noises.
"Usually, a bear will move from an area once it detects humans," the press release stated. "If a bear does not retreat, slowly leave the area and find an alternate hiking route."
Though the bear population continues to swell and be of concern to some residents, prevention and tolerance are necessary for coexisting with bears in Connecticut, the DEEP stated.
"It is important to remember that although black bears regularly travel near houses, they are rarely aggressive toward humans and can usually be frightened away by making loud noises, throwing sticks, or spraying with a garden hose," according to the press release.
In the rare instance when a bear appears to be aggressive toward people, residents should contact the DEEP Wildlife Division’s Sessions Woods office at 860-675-8130 (Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or the DEEP’s 24-hour dispatch line at 860-424-3333 during weekends and non-business hours.
Bear sightings reported by the public provide valuable information to assist the DEEP Wildlife Division in monitoring the black bear population. Anyone who observes a black bear in Connecticut is encouraged to report the sighting on the DEEP’s Web site. Some bears have been ear-tagged for research. Information on the presence or absence of tags, including tag color, letters, and numbering, is particularly valuable.Reports of Black Bear Activity in Connecticut
April 29, 2011 to April 27, 2012 Town Reports Andover 3 Ashford 4 Avon 198 Barkhamsted 94 Beacon Falls 3 Berlin 5 Bethany 13 Bethlehem 4 Bloomfield 34 Bolton 1 Bozrah 1 Branford 1 Bridgewater 4 Bristol 53 Brookfield 3 Burlington 154 Canaan 6 Canton 153 Chaplin 1 Cheshire 3 Chester 2 Colebrook 17 Cornwall 11 Coventry 1 Cromwell 1 Danbury 7 Derby 2 Durham 2 East Granby 64 East Haddam 2 East Hampton 1 East Hartford 2 East Lyme 1 East Windsor 1 Eastford 2 Easton 5 Ellington 7 Farmington 222 Goshen 40 Granby 69 Griswold 1 Guilford 6 Haddam 6 Hamden 1 Hartland 33 Harwinton 108 Hebron 1 Kent 7 Killingly 2 Killingworth 5 Lebanon 2 Ledyard 2 Litchfield 72 Madison 9 Middlebury 3 Middlefield 4 Monroe 2 Montville 1 Morris 8 Naugatuck 2 New Britain 13 New Fairfield 8 New Hartford 94 New Haven 1 New Milford 32 Newtown 9 Norfolk 18 North Canaan 1 North Stonington 1 Oxford 6 Plainfield 1 Plainville 12 Plymouth 43 Pomfret 1 Prospect 5 Redding 2 Ridgefield 6 Roxbury 14 Salem 1 Salisbury 10 Seymour 2 Sharon 11 Shelton 1 Sherman 12 Simsbury 135 Somers 6 Southbury 5 Southington 12 Stafford 9 Stamford 1 Stonington 2 Suffield 43 Thomaston 67 Thompson 2 Tolland 3 Torrington 189 Trumbull 3 Wallingford 5 Warren 12 Washington 6 Waterbury 6 Watertown 23 West Hartford 27 Willington 4 Wilton 1 Winchester 87 Windsor 47 Windsor Locks 7 Winsted 1 Wolcott 13 Woodbury 1 Woodstock 2 Total 2,495