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Bear accused of devouring first corn harvest at Scott's Yankee Farmer in East Lyme

East Lyme — A bear is being blamed for ravaging this year's first harvest of corn at Scott's Yankee Farmer.

Colin Scott, whose family owns the farm, said he came upon a 20-foot section of corn in their Scott Road field that had been ransacked in a way that was not typical of the way coyotes, raccoons and skunks typically nibble on the corn.

"I started seeing ears that were completely shucked all the way down. They had nothing on the outside of them anymore. No husk anymore. It was just the end of that cob and that was it. It was eaten right down to the bottom," he said.

There was also scat as big as two fists, according to the farmer.

The bear destroyed a large portion of the farm's first corn harvest of the season during the July 12 incident. 

Karen Scott, an owner of the farm and Colin's mother, noted there have been numerous bear sightings posted on the popular East Lyme Community Forum Facebook page on streets including Green Valley Lake Road, Frog Hollow Road, Tanglewood Drive and Scott Road.

One of those posts showed a large bear peering inside the sliding basement doors of a Scott Road residence on July 7.

The Scott family knew exactly which house the bear had been visiting, Karen said — "And it's as close to our field as you could get."

According to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, there have been seven bear sightings reported in East Lyme this year. There have been 5,239 reported throughout the state this year.

The DEEP said the bear population is healthy and increasing in Connecticut, where sightings have become more common in communities in or near bear habitats. The agency said it does not trap and relocate bears because there's nowhere in the highly developed state to release them and other states will not accept them.

DEEP spokesman Will Healy said the best way for farmers to protect crops is to install electric fencing.

But Colin said that's too big of a project to undertake when they must harvest other areas of corn and prepare for more crops, like apples and pumpkins and peaches.

Not to mention getting ready for next year's strawberry crop, Karen said.

The family said they might get out the propane canon they've used to deter birds with loud, periodic blasts.

"I used to worry about a lot more and it didn't help," Karen said of experience gleaned over decades of farming. "So I've just kind of let it go. Tomorrow's another day. Next week, maybe the corn will be better."

Colin -- who said "we're not farmers, we're problem solvers" -- was optimistic about the corn yield for the rest of the season.

"We've got more corn coming," he said.

e.regan@theday.com

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