FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — With bear activity increasing in spring, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is reminding residents across Connecticut to beware of black bears.
DEEP says residents to take steps to reduce encounters and potential conflicts with black bears. Connecticut’s bear population continues to grow and expand.
Last year, 6,700 bear sightings from 134 of Connecticut’s 169 towns were reported to the DEEP Wildlife Division.
“If you genuinely care about bears, you should never feed them – either intentionally or unintentionally,” said Susan Whalen, DEEP Deputy Commissioner. “Bears become habituated, losing their fear of humans, when attracted to homes by easily accessible food sources.
"Such bears spend more time in neighborhoods and near people, increasing public safety fears, and the likelihood that the bears may be hit and killed by cars or meet with some other misfortune.”
Here are bear sightings for the past 52 weeks in Fairfield County towns:
- Bethel: 17
- Brookfield: 71
- Danbury: 48
- Easton: 20
- Fairfield: 4
- Monroe: 33
- New Canaan: 1
- New Fairfield: 56
- Newtown: 103
- Norwalk: 4
- Redding: 58
- Ridgefield: 8
- Sherman: 60
- Stamford: 9
- Stratford: 1
- Trumbull: 2
- Weston: 10
- Wilton: 26
Connecticut residents should take the following simple steps to avoid problems with black bears:
- Never feed bears.
- Take down, clean, and put away birdfeeders until late fall.
- Store garbage in secure, airtight containers inside a garage or storage area. Adding ammonia to cans and bags will reduce odors that attract bears. Periodically clean garbage cans with ammonia to reduce residual odor.
- 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.
- Do not leave pet food outdoors.
- Keep barbecue grills clean and store them inside a garage or shed.
- Do not place meat scraps or sweet foods in compost piles.
If you encounter a bear while hiking, make your presence known by yelling or making other loud noises. Never approach a bear to take a photo or video.
If a bear does not retreat, slowly leave the area and find an alternate route.
If the bear persistently approaches, make loud noises, wave your arms, and throw sticks or rocks. Never run.
In the rare instance when a bear appears to be aggressive toward people, residents should immediately contact the DEEP’s 24-hour dispatch line at 860-424-3333.
For more information about black bears, visit the DEEP’s website at www.ct.gov/deep/blackbear .