DEEP warns people to be 'bear aware' - WFSB 3 Connecticut

DEEP warns people to be 'bear aware'

Posted: Updated:
(CT DEEP photo) (CT DEEP photo)
(WFSB) -

State environmental officials are urging residents to be aware of bears as the animals' population continues to grow and the weather gets warmer.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said people can take steps to reduce contact and potential conflicts with black bears.

“If you genuinely care about bears, you should never feed them, either intentionally or unintentionally,” said Susan Whalen, DEEP deputy commissioner. “Bears can become habituated and lose their fear of humans when they are attracted close to homes by easily-accessible food sources. This results in more contact between people and bears, which creates public safety issues for people and the greater likelihood of bears engaging in behavior that can lead to their euthanization.”

In 2015, DEEP said there were 4,500 reported bear sightings in 141 of the state's 169 municipalities.

DEEP recommended the following:

  • Take down bird feeders by late and storm them until the fall. Clean up any spilled seed.
  • Store garbage in airtight containers inside a garage or storage area. Adding ammonia to cans and bags could reduce odors. Put out garbage the morning of pickup.
  • Never feed beers.
  • Protect beehives, livestock and berry bushes with electric fencing.
  • Supervise dogs when they're outside. Keep them on a leash while walking or hiking.
  • Do not leave pet food outside.
  • Keep BBQ grills clean.
  • Avoid placing meat scraps or sweet foods in a compost pile.

DEEP also urged people who encounter a bear to make their presence known by yelling or making loud noises. If the bear does not retreat, find an alternate route to go.

If, in the rare instance, a bear appears to be aggressive toward people, contact DEEP at 860-424-3011 Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or 860-424-3333 during weekends and non-business hours.

More information on Connecticut's black bears can be found here.

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.