Simsbury has seen its fair share of bears over the years, but this year there has been a spike in reports to police.
“These animals are growing in numbers and of course we’ve seen a growth and development in these communities not just in the Farmington valley area but across Connecticut,” said Mark Rudewicz, Simsbury’s animal control officer.
According to officials, there have been 472 calls to police this year alone, and dozens attended a meeting Thursday night to raise concerns about safety.
One of the main concerns residents had was child safety surrounding schools.
The district calls it a “code brown’ when a bear is sighted by a school, and they go into a lockdown mode.
While the bears may just be sauntering through the area, the school isn’t taking any chances.
“There are now about 800 bears across the state and local officials addressed concerns at the public meeting on Thursday night,” Rudewicz said.
“We are really concerned that we’re reaching a tipping point with the bear population. I just saw two yesterday, two separate occasions. We’re having near misses at schools, school bus stops with children we don’t want an accident to happen we want to get ahead of this issue,” said Simsbury State Rep. John Hampton.
One woman says she moved to Simsbury to get a good education for her two sons, but says the bears have her thinking twice.
“We’ve had like six or seven bears this past week on my block daily. My sons school, they have what they call a “code brown” and the children can’t go out to play because there is a bear on school property and this is happening daily,” said Adina Ciobotaru.
Some residents have called for a bear hunting season, but others say it’s just a part of living in the area.
“It’s pretty much every year we have a couple in our yard. They tend to follow the power lines because there is a clearing in the woods, then there’s a stream, they come across the stream and then here at the school. So it’s kind of like their path,” said Amber Irimiah.
The superintendent said if a bear is around during dismissal, the animal control officer is called and stays with the bear as kids have walked home or exited the bus.