Are you bear aware?
Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (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 continues to grow.
As bears are coming out from their winter dens, natural food sources may be scarce and, as a result, bears can be attracted to human-provided foods found near homes.
“If you genuinely care about bears, you should not feed them — either intentionally or accidentally,” said Susan Whalen, DEEP Deputy Commissioner. “Most bears, when attracted close to homes by easily-accessible food sources, will become habituated and lose their fear of humans. This is when they become a problem.”
Connecticut residents should take the following simple steps to avoid problems with black bears:
• Never feed them.
• 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, make your presence known by yelling or making other loud noises. If a bear does not retreat, slowly leave the area and find an alternate hiking route. While camping, keep a clean campsite, and make sure food and garbage are secured (for example, keep food in a cooler stored in the trunk of a car and never have food in your tent).
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. 4:30 p.m. or the DEEP's 24-hour dispatch line (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 website www.ct.gov/deep/wildlife or to call the Wildlife Division's Sessions Woods office. 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. To obtain informational fact sheets about bears, visit the DEEP's website or call the Sessions Woods office. Educational posters about black bears are available on the DEEP website at www.ct.gov/deep/blackbear.