Ridgefield off-duty officer involved in Newtown bear shooting
NEWTOWN, CT (WFSB) - An off duty Ridgefield police officer was involved in the shooting death of a beloved mother bear in Newtown, according to Ridgefield’s police chief.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said it is investigating the fatal shooting of a female black bear, which neighbors in Newtown named Bobbi.
Ridgefield Police Chief Jeff Kreitz confirmed that the off-duty Ridgefield officer was involved in the incident the left Bobbi dead.
According to the Newtown Police Department, DEEP responded and left the bear’s two cubs in the area due to the area being familiar to the animals.
“Presently, the bear cubs remain in the area as it is their home range, and their familiarity with the area will increase their chance of success,” DEEP officials said.
Last week, Lauren Black saw Bobbi and her two cubs around her trees.
Sometime later, Bobbi went down Black’s driveway, that’s when gunshots rang out.
“We were just watching her, enjoying living in nature,” Black said. “Being able to see this beautiful bear, and then to know that a couple hours later she was dead, it’s not a nice way to go.”
Bobbi the bear, known by her tags as Bear 217, was a fixture of Newtown and surrounding communities, neighbors said.
Since the bear’s death, neighbors have been sharing encounters they’ve had with it.
“One time she was coming through the yard, was walking right toward me. I didn’t see her, and my wife was calling to me from in the house and said, ‘Do you not see that bear?’” said Joe Query. “We always looked forward to seeing her.”
Black said she is trying to get Bobbi’s cubs with a rehabilitator.
DEEP said the best thing to do is just monitor them. It wants them to learn how to forage for natural food sources.
“To best assist the cubs, monitoring should be left to DEEP and local officials,” DEEP said.
Police and wildlife officials said they encouraged people not feed the animals because that will greatly reduce the cubs’ abilities to survive on their own.
Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal confirmed that he too was trying to get the cubs with a rehabilitator.
“I am working with our animal control officer, Carolee Mason, and lobbying DEEP including the commissioner to secure permission to allow the cubs to go to a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation organization,” Rosenthal said.
Black said she’s already found places willing to take them, but it’s just a matter of DEEP signing off on them.
“We’re talking to people out of state, so if they don’t want the bears to stay in the state there are options,” Black said.
DEEP’s website said in some cases, arrangements could be made to place an animal with a specialized rehabilitator out-of-state.
Any witnesses to the incident were requested to notify DEEP at 860-424-3011. Anyone who observes a black bear in Connecticut is encouraged to report the sighting on DEEP’s website.
DEEP also shared a list of tips regarding bears:
NEVER feed bears.
1. Take down, clean, and put away birdfeeders by late March, or even earlier during mild weather. Store the feeders until late fall and clean up spilled seed from the ground. Store any unused birdseed and suet in a location not accessible to bears, such as a closed garage. Do not store birdseed in screened porches or sheds where bears will be able to rip screens or break windows to access the seed.
2. Store garbage in secure, airtight containers inside a garage or other enclosed storage area. Adding ammonia to trash cans and bags will reduce odors that attract bears. Periodically clean garbage cans with ammonia to reduce residual odor. Garbage for pickup should be put outside the morning of collection and not the night before.
3. Do not store recyclables in a porch or screened sunroom as bears can smell these items and will rip screens to get at them.
4. Keep barbecue grills clean. Store grills inside a garage or shed.
5. Supervise dogs at all times when outside. Keep dogs on a short leash when walking and hiking. A roaming dog might be perceived as a threat to a bear or its cubs. (Dogs are required to be on a leash when visiting State Parks, State Forests, and Wildlife Management Areas. Check dog and leash regulations for town properties, land trusts, and other public properties before heading to those areas.)
6. Do not leave pet food outdoors or feed pets outside.
7. Use electric fencing to protect chickens, other livestock, beehives, agricultural crops, and berry bushes.
8. Avoid placing meat scraps or sweet foods, such as fruit and fruit peels, in compost piles
You can find DEEP’s guide on living with black bears here.
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