Could Bear 211's death have been prevented? CT DEEP thinks so.

A file photo of a bear sighting in Brookfield, Conn., in April 2018. The bear in this photo is not Bear 211. State officials urge residents to remove bird feeders, and other bear attractants, from their yards. Feeders should be taken down from late March through November, when bears are active.

A file photo of a bear sighting in Brookfield, Conn., in April 2018. The bear in this photo is not Bear 211. State officials urge residents to remove bird feeders, and other bear attractants, from their yards. Feeders should be taken down from late March through November, when bears are active.

Tina Heidrich / Contributed

State experts say the death of beloved Bear 211, who was put down after being critically hurt when he was hit by a vehicle in Easton this week, was likely the result of repeated habituation to humans because of easy access to food.

Will Healey, a spokesperson for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said Bear 211’s death should serve as a reminder to Connecticut residents to make sure animals don’t have an easy path to food, garbage, bird seed or other attractants in their yards or around their homes.

“This is another sad outcome resulting from habituation,” Healey told Hearst Connecticut Media. “Bears that become habituated to humans and associate people with food are at much greater risk of being hit and killed by motor vehicles.”

Bear 211 was hit by a motor vehicle around 6:20 p.m. Monday on Route 136 near Wilson Road, according to Easton Police Chief Richard Doyle. He said responding officers found the bear, with ear tags No. 211 from the state DEEP. Healey said Easton police humanely euthanized Bear 211 after finding him severely injured. The driver left the area before police arrived.

Healey said Bear 211 was a yearling that was first handled as a cub by state experts in New Hartford. He said the bear was captured and tagged by the state DEEP on May 14 in Waterbury. Healey said Bear 211 weighed 156 pounds.

“He was acting bold around people due to suspected feeding,” Healey said, adding that he was hazed and released in nearby Naugatuck State Forest.

Bear 211 had a massive online following, with thousands who followed a Facebook page that shared photos and stories of the animal’s adventures throughout Fairfield County, with notable stories coming out of Trumbull and Westport.

Healey said sightings of Bear 211 began in Trumbull in late May. There, Healey said, the animal was again showing “bold behavior around people.” Healey said the bear investigated decks, went into sun rooms, followed hikers and caused property damage in town while looking for easy meals near homes. When town officials contacted the state DEEP, police were given advice on how to keep the bear and the residents safe — and, how to reignite a fear of humans for the animal.

Bear 211 eventually moved on from Trumbull, wandering into other nearby towns.

In Westport, Healey said, Bear 211 showed “bold and aggressive behavior toward humans,” like chasing people into their homes, causing property damage, going into a sun room and coming into physical contact with at least one resident.

When personnel from the state DEEP responded to one of the Westport incidents, Healey said, they were able to haze the bear, who fled.

“The bear’s movement patterns over a large area made it impractical for DEEP to try and trap the bear,” Healey said. “This bear covered long distances during his life. It is not unusual for yearling males to wander long distances when they are looking for their own territory.”

The community that loved Bear 211 took to a Facebook page in his honor as news of his death spread, sharing stories and photos of the animal wandering in backyards, peaking in windows and swimming in pools this summer. The page was created in late May as sightings of the bear first started to circulate online.

Among the ideas to come out of Bear 211’s death is a memorial carving of the bear, expected to be placed at Weston-based Wildlife in Crisis, a wildlife rehabilitation and education center, which has previously raised orphaned bear cubs. The facility held a discussion with a bear expert Wednesday night in the wake of Bear 211’s death.

For more information on bears in Connecticut, visit the state DEEP website on living with black bears.