Simsbury's animal control offers tips if you come across a bear

Simsbury's animal control officer took Channel 3 on a ride-a-long to check out the bear population (Mark Rudewicz)

The bear population is on the rise here in Connecticut.

"Throughout the whole town, we have a good amount of bear activity,” said Simsbury’s Animal Control Officer Mark Rudewicz.

With these bear sightings becoming more frequent, Channel 3 hopped in the car with Rudewicz to find out what people should do if they come across a bear.

On Tuesday, Rudewicz was out scoping the areas in Simsbury where bears have been spotted the most.

"I respond to calls from the Bloomfield line over by Tariffville, to Weatogue to the Avon border, to Route 44,” Rudewicz said.

He added that he gets about three calls a day about bears.

"I’ll go to calls where they'll walk within feet from you,” Rudewicz said. "People call me and say, ‘Mark. This bear has been here twice today, three times today’."

According to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, sightings are becoming more frequent.

There have been 353 since last August in Simsbury, and Connecticut’s bear population only continues to grow and expand year after year.

Bears will hang out in neighborhoods where food sources are abundant and easy to access.

They'll also revisit the same location over and over again.

"So, they seek out the non-natural attractants, which are your bird feeders, suit, garbage, recycle bins. You know, who has grills, pet food left out, these are all attractants to animals,” Rudewicz said.

When he responds to calls, Rudewicz said they can discharge noise rounds to get the bears moving or fire a bean-bag round from a shot-gun.

"Just to reinforce, it's not aimed to hurt the animal, but it is aimed to counter-condition them and train that animal to have that fear keep that edge of humans,” Rudewicz said.

Here's what you should do if you encounter a bear: Remain calm Do not approach or try to get closer If the bear is unaware of your presence, back away or make noise If the bear is aware of you and does not flee, talk to the bear in a calm voice and back away slowly If the bear approaches, make more noise, wave your arms, and throw objects at the bearAlso, Rudewicz said to call the police to report a sighting.

Copyright 2018 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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