DEEP: Close encounters with black bears on rise in Connecticut

Black bear (File)

BURLINGTON, Conn. (WTNH)- Black bear sightings are on the rise in the state. Wildlife Biologist with DEEP, Paul Rego said because we had a mild winter– the bears came out of hibernation early and some didn’t hibernate at all.

Rego said, “20 years ago bears were still quite uncommon in the state and the population has grown every year. We are seeing more bears the sightings are an indicator of it. We had an early spring and so bears were active early this year compared to most years.”

According to DEEP it’s estimated there are 600-700 black bears live in the state. As the population grows, so do the chances of a bear encounter. These bears came out of the Session Woods in Burlington and went right up to a woman. Luckily the she was able to back away from the bears without getting hurt. Rego said in the last 10 years the black bear population has spread.

Related: State reports increased bear attacks on bee hives, livestock

Rego said, “We have very good habitat, much of Connecticut is forested and good bear habitat.” DEEP added this year there is a high number of attacks on livestock. “People that have livestock, have bee hives should be aware there is a risk out there with our bear population,” Rego added.

Black bears are not picky they’ll eat just about everything. Residential sightings are up because Rego says they’re getting used to human interaction. Rego said, “So they are rewarded by finding foods around our homes such as bird feed and house hold garbage and there’s no negative consequence.”

So where will you have better luck seeing a black bear?

Rego said, “A lot of our sightings come from the more suburban towns in North West Connecticut such as Farmington, Simsbury, Burlington, Avon, Canton.”

Rego added don’t leave garbage or bird feeders around and if you see a bear don’t get close to take a picture.

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