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Saturday, October 20 Local

DEEP: State’s black bears becoming more active

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Bear sigting in Sherman, Conn. April 12, 2018

Media: Monica Mueller

The bears are back.

“With the warmer weather black bears are leaving their winter dens and becoming more active,” the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says.

“Residents of towns in western Connecticut should expect a regular presence of black bears as they are now well established in that part of the state.”

Last year, there were about 6,500 black bear sightings from 131 out of 169 Connecticut towns were reported to the DEEP Wildlife Division.

Between April 13, 2017 and Oct. 18, there were 228 bear sightings in New Milford and 80 in Danbury.

Some of the bears will be with their cubs. The cubs are born in the bear dens during January or February.

“Cubs are weaned when they are about seven months old and will remain with the female until the second summer of their lives,” DEEP says on its bear page. “Then, the young bears, especially the males, may travel great distances in search of their own territories. Yearling females frequently settle near their mother’s home range. Young bears are often forced into less preferred habitat.”

The rapid increase in the bear population between the 1980s and early 2000s is expected to continue.

As the bear population expands, interactions between humans and bears will increase.

People should learn what to do if they see a bear and how to avoid unnecessary conflicts by keeping food away from bears.

Tips for living with black bears

To live peacefully with bears, DEEP suggests:

Wait until the morning of collection before bringing out trash. Add a few capfuls of ammonia to trash bags and garbage cans to mask food odors. Keep trash bags in a container with a tight lid and store in a garage or shed.

Do not leave pet food outside overnight. Store livestock food in airtight containers.

Do not put meats or sweet-smelling fruit rinds in compost piles. Lime can be sprinkled on the compost pile to reduce the smell and discourage bears.

Thoroughly clean grills after use or store in a garage or shed.

Never intentionally feed bears. Bears that associate food with people may become aggressive and dangerous. This may lead to personal injury, property damage, and the need to destroy problem animals.

If you see a bear on your property you can either leave the bear alone and wait for it to leave or make loud noises from a safe distance to attempt to scare the bear away.

If you see a bear when hiking or camping, make your presence known by making noise and waving your arms.

If you surprise a bear at close range, walk away slowly while facing the bear. Do not run. Try to stay calm as you make your retreat.

Black bears will sometimes "bluff charge" to within a few feet of you when they feel threatened. If this happens, stand your ground and shout at the bear. Do not climb a tree because black bears are excellent tree climbers.

Make sure your dog is on a leash and under control.

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