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It seems as though a black bear has found the Ivoryton section of Essex to be just the right part of town to take up residency; not too big, not too small, just the right size. This bear was recently spotted at the RiverEdge Condominiums and again a few days later in a backyard on Bushy Hill Road.
“We are recommending that residents follow the usual bear protocol, which is to stay away from the bear, pull your bird feeders in at night, and keep your dogs on leashes when you are in the woods,” said First Selectman Norm Needleman. “Usually bears are not aggressive animals and generally don’t bother humans. They are just looking for food, so don’t feed them. They are not pets.”
He added, “At this point we are not looking to do anything about this particular bear. It seems to have been in the area for a while, in the woods between Essex and Deep River. We put out an email blast about black bear do’s and don’ts and are just alerting residents to stay away from the animals if they see them.”
The town-wide email blast included these suggestions: remove bird feeders and bird food from late March through November, eliminate food attractants by placing garbage cans inside a garage or shed and add ammonia to trash to make it unpalatable, be sure to clean and store grills in a garage or shed after use (propane cylinders should be stored outside), and. as Needleman mentioned, keep dogs on leashes when in the woods.
The don’ts included: don’t intentionally feed bears. Bears that become accustomed to finding food near your home may become problem bears. Don’t approach or try to get closer to a bear to get a photo or video, don’t leave pet food outside overnight, and don’t add meat or sweets to a compost pile.
According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)’s website, black bears are becoming increasingly common in Connecticut. Reports of bear sightings, even in heavily populated residential areas, have been on the rise. Between the fall of 2017 and the fall of 2018, more than 7,850 bear sightings in Connecticut were reported to DEEP.
The Wildlife Division has also seen an increase in the number of reported problems with black bears. The primary contributing factor is the presence of easily-accessible food sources near homes and businesses. Bears have an excellent sense of smell so they can find food easily, and bears that associate food with humans can become habituated and lose their fear of humans. Under normal circumstances, bears leave an area once they sense a human and aggression towards humans is exceptionally rare.
The DEEP website suggests that if a bear is seen in your neighborhood, leave it alone. In most situations, if given an avenue for escape, the bear will usually wander back into more secluded areas. Often a bear will climb a tree to avoid people. A crowd of bystanders will only stress the bear and also add the risk that the bear will be chased into traffic or the crowd of people.
Bear history in the state reports that by the mid-1800’s there were no black bears left in Connecticut. However, they began to make their way back into the area sometime in the 1980s.
For more information, contact the DEEP Wildlife Division at 860-424-3011 or DEEP Dispatch at 860-424-3333.
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