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CT – WILDLIFE – When the bears wake up in March and April, they’re lean and hungry: What you need to know

Just about everyone in Simsbury has a bear story. First Selectman Eric Wellman was on his morning run, at the break of dawn, and almost ran smack into an adult black bear as it ambled across the road in front of him. Both were startled. The bear ran away and climbed a tree. Wellman, after a pause, jogged on. Mark Rudewicz, Simsbury’s animal control officer, has run into bears he could not control — for example, when a large male sauntered toward him, backing him into his truck. Rudewicz had left the door open just in case. Last year town police received more than 600 bear calls from worried residents, and townspeople reported more than 530 sightings to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), second only to Avon’s 690. There were 7,000-plus sightings reported statewide in 2019, a record. Sixty-three bears were killed in crashes on Connecticut roadways in 2018, another record. Last April, a bear crashed through a screen door and entered a house in Simsbury. When the homeowner returned he called 911, and DEEP officers killed the bear. Its ear tag revealed it to be a repeat offender. As in most close encounters with humans, the bear was after food. In 2018 Simsbury police reported four such break-ins, as well as two houses that were damaged in failed attempts. There were 21 home invasions by bears statewide in 2018 — yet another record — according to DEEP. March and April are when black bears (Ursus americanus) emerge from their winter slumber, lean and hungry. Omnivores, they eat everything from acorns, skunk cabbage and small deer to birdseed, unsecured garbage and, on occasion, livestock. Some people even leave food out for them so they can admire the animals close up — even though DEEP officers warn that “a fed bear” that grows too acclimated to humans often becomes, for reasons of public safety, “a dead bear.” Simsbury is drafting an ordinance that would prohibit intentionally feeding bears.  [full article]

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