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Have you seen a Black Bear recently?

With spring upon us, Black Bears are awakening from their Connecticut dens and heading out looking for food. This means that we should all be aware that we may have new visitors in our area, and understand how to stay safe with this new addition to the community.

Did you know that black bear activity by town is reported by the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP)? As of April 5th of this year, my town of New Milford has recorded the sighting of 224 black bears!

I know if you are like me, you’re thinking 224 bears is a lot of bears! No need to worry though, the DEEP has given us some great guidance regarding how to manage bears near your home. Needless to say, we will have to adapt to their presence here and take precautions. Bird feeders and barbecue grills are often attractions and should be reconsidered or taken indoors a night. Bears will eat almost anything to including plants, grasses, fruits, nuts, berries and insects. Garbage pail contents are also on their menu. Despite the Black Bear’s voracious appetite, as long as we follow certain precautions, DEEP says we can coexist peacefully with the Black Bear.

Unfortunately, the state legislature has a different idea on how to manage the Black Bear presence. The state legislature is considering a proposal submitted by Litchfield Rep. Craig Miner, Republican chairman of the Environment Committee, to allow a hunt of the state's black bears. The Committee Bill is No. 522.

This could be detrimental to our bears as a whole and not backed up by good science. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “Connecticut’s bear population is so small, any trophy hunt could result in harming the population. Bears are a long-lived but slow-producing species and are highly susceptible to human persecution. They need adequate reserves and safe passages between their populations to survive.”

So do we wish to be good stewards and coexist with Black Bears, or do we wish to kill them so they are no longer a part of our lives? That is a question being debated in our legislature right now. You can tell them what you think by participating in the Humane Society’s online petition.

Having seen a Black Bear in my driveway, I can say that she or he was beautiful, and when it ran, it was incredibly fast for its size. However, I'm not sure where I stand. Are you with the Bears?

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