How to protect yourself from bears in Connecticut

(Photo: WTNH / Report-It)
(Photo: WTNH / Report-It)


BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Branford police are asking residents to be extra careful, as bear sightings in town are becoming an almost daily occurrence.

According to Branford police, homeowners have been calling to report bear sightings with increasing frequency. Officials from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) have installed a trap in the area of Whiting Farms Road to catch one persistent bear in that neighborhood.

DEEP officials say that reports of bear sightings, even in heavily populated residential areas, have been on the rise across the state. A major contributing factor to bear nuisance problems is the presence of easily-accessible food sources, particularly near homes and businesses.

Related Content: Keeping track of Connecticut’s bear population

If bears are able to consistently find sustenance in the same locations, fed bears can become habituated and lose their fear of humans. Bears should never be fed, either intentionally or accidentally.

DEEP officials have compiled the following list of Do’s and Don’ts for Connecticut residents to avoid conflicts and problems with bears:
(Source: CT.gov/deep)

BEARS NEAR YOUR HOME

Bears are attracted to the garbage, pet food, compost piles, fruit trees, and birdfeeders.

  • DO remove birdfeeders and bird food from late March through November.
  • DO eliminate food attractants by placing garbage cans inside a garage or shed. Add ammonia to trash to make it unpalatable.
  • DO clean and store grills in a garage or shed after use.
  • 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.
  • DON’T add meat or sweets to a compost pile.

BEARS SEEN WHEN HIKING OR CAMPING

Bears normally leave an area once they have sensed a human. If you see a bear, enjoy it from a distance. Aggression by bears towards humans is exceptionally rare.

  • DO make your presence known by making noise while hiking. Hike in groups. If you see a bear, make enough noise and wave your arms so the bear is aware of your presence.
  • DO keep dogs on a leash and under control. A roaming dog might be perceived as a threat to a bear or its cubs.
  • DO back away slowly if you surprise a bear nearby.
  • DON’T approach or try to get closer to a bear to get a photo or video.
  • DON’T run or climb a tree. If possible, wait in a vehicle or building until the bear leaves the area.
  • DO be offensive if the bear approaches you. Make more noise, wave your arms, and throw objects at the bear. Black bears rarely attack humans. If you are attacked, do not play dead. Fight back with anything available.
  • DON’T cook food near your tent or store food inside your tent. Instead, keep food in a secure vehicle or use rope to suspend it between two trees.

If you see a bear in your neighborhood, contact DEEP’s Wildlife Division (860-424-3011, Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM-4:30 PM) or DEEP Dispatch (860-424-3333, 24 hours) to report the sighting.

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