With warmer weather reaching the region as spring begins anew, there has been a reported uptick in black bear sightings in Connecticut, officials said.
The New York State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said that there have been more bear activity since the weather broke, with many waking from hibernation and looking for sustenance.
Officials warned that bears are attracted to bird feeders and garbage, and are more likely to revisit places they’ve found food in the past.
It was advised that bird feeders shouldn’t be out at this point of the year, garbage containers should be secured in a locked area and livestock should be protected by electric fencing.
"With the arrival of spring, bear activity is increasing throughout the state," DEEP said. "While bears await the growth of fresh spring vegetation, they continue to rely on acorns and the remaining hard mast leftover from fall.
In addition to these natural foods, birdseed, human food waste, and pet food, as well as unprotected livestock and beehives, are also consumed by bears, especially near the areas where food rewards have been found in the past.
"Connecticut residents are reminded to look around their homes for potential attractants and properly secure or remove them. Bird feeders should not be out this time of year, and even empty feeders still attract bear visitors.
"Secure garbage containers in a locked area and add ammonia to trash bags. Livestock and beehives should be protected with appropriate electric fencing that is properly maintained year-round. Taking such steps is important to greatly reduce encounters and potential conflicts with bears."
According to DEEP, “though rarely seen by most, black bears are valued by hunters, photographers, and wildlife watchers.
“Many people enjoy just knowing that bears are present in (the area). For many, black bears symbolize wilderness and wildness, but increasingly, bears can be found in semi-rural environments, agricultural areas, and occasionally in urban centers.”
In the event of a bear sighting, wildlife officials offered a series of tips in case of a close encounter:
- Remain calm and avoid sudden movements;
- Give the bear plenty of room, allowing it to continue its activities undisturbed. If it changes its behavior, you are too close, back away;
- If you see a bear, but it doesn't see you, detour quickly and quietly;
- If it sees you, talk in normal tones and wave your arms;
- If a bear pursues you, do not run. Throw a personal item on the ground. He may be distracted by this and allow you to slowly escape;
- A standing bear is not always a sign of aggression. Many bears will stand to get a better view.
"If a bear is seen in your town or neighborhood, leave it alone. In most situations, if left alone and given an avenue for escape, the bear will usually wander back into more secluded areas," according to officials. "Keep dogs under control.
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