Black bear sighting in Waterford prompts reminder: Don't leave food where they can get it
Waterford — It was the birdseed that attracted the black bear to her parents' backyard, Janet Leibham is pretty sure.
"He was clearly going after the bird feeder," said Leibham, who lives a few houses down from her parents on Butlertown Road. Her mother texted a photo of the bear, taken about 11 a.m. Monday through her screen door. The bear had grabbed the bird feeder, then ran into the woods. Leibham told her, again, to take the feeder inside.
That was good advice, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokesman Chris Collibee said Tuesday.
"We need to be proactive and take steps to reduce food sources for bears," he said. "Including taking down bird feeders, and not putting out your trash until the morning of trash pickup."
As Connecticut's bear population grows, sightings like this have become more common. Bears were seen in 134 of Connecticut's 169 towns in 2016, according to DEEP records.
So far in 2018, there have been 7,650 bear sightings reported to DEEP. The highest numbers have been seen in the central part of the state, more than 400 in Farmington and Avon, as of September.
People have reported fewer bear sightings in southeastern Connecticut — three in Waterford this year — but still can benefit from taking measures to prevent bear visits. Waterford police said they responded to two reports of a bear near Route 85 in July.
The bear seen Monday in Waterford is likely male, Collibee said, because female bears tend to stick close to where they are born, while male bears wander. And, especially if there's birdseed or garbage to be had, sometimes that wandering will take them into people's backyards.
People should call police if a bear is actively creating a safety hazard by entering a home or walking in a densely populated neighborhood, Collibee said. If the bear is just on a stroll and there's no immediate danger, people can call DEEP's Wildlife Division to report the sighting.
In all cases, though, people should not attempt to go near a bear and should do everything they can to avoid attracting them to populated areas. That includes keeping bird feeders inside from late March through November, waiting to put trash outside until the day of scheduled collection, keeping trash bags in a container with a tight lid inside a garage or shed and not leaving any food outside overnight.
People also can protect beehives, livestock and berry bushes from bears with electric fencing and should supervise pets, which bears may perceive as threats, when they are outside.
Report bear sightings to the Wildlife Division by calling (860) 424-3011 or visiting bit.ly/bearreport.
Reports of black bear activity in Connecticut
9/12/2017 to 9/6/2018
Data source: Department of Energy & Environmental Protection
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