Bears making presence felt across area

Published on Thursday, 23 May 2019 21:10
Written by Charles Paullin


NEW BRITAIN - This city with the motto “Industry fills the hive and enjoys the honey,” has apparently caught the attention of a couple of curious bears this week.

In recent days, bears have been reported on Lennox Place and on West Main Street in New Britain, as well as in the Grove Hill area of Berlin. A mother bear and two cubs were seen eating ice cream and deli meat behind Cleveland’s Country Store in Plymouth.

“This is the time of year when bears are more active,” said Lee Sawyer, a spokesman for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Certainly “Many of them have cubs and are out foraging for food.”

According to Sawyer, the bear population in Connecticut has been increasing and is estimated to be around 800 now.

There were 8,497 reports of black bear activity in the state between May 24, 2018 and May 16, 2019, according to the DEEP Black Bear sighting counter on its website. The most have been in Avon, Simsbury, Farmington and Torrington, with more than 400. Bristol has had the most in the immediate area with 223 sightings.

“The bear population is increasing quickly,” Sawyer said. “… That number is rapidly increasing as bears have no natural predators in this ecosystem.

“It’s not that bears are seeking out highly populated areas, but they are increasingly taking up residence throughout new areas of the state and that put them more likely to be in contact with humans,” said Sawyer.

When a bear is a spotted and local animal control is notified, they will send an officer out to examine the area and see if the bear is creating a danger, contrary to what residents have told The Herald the past two days, said city Animal Control Officer Gerald Hicks. Residents have said they’ve contacted animal control about bear sightings and have received no response from the officers.

“That is not correct,” said Hicks.

Often, bears will have left the area by the time the officer arrives, leaving them with nothing to report or do, Hicks said, and with residents leaving anonymous tips about the sightings, there’s no way to report back to the resident that the matter is resolved.

“Bears are a part of nature and unless the bear is sick, injured or aggressive, police will not intervene,” said Acting Deputy Police Chief Jeanette Portalatin. “Bear sightings can be reported to DEEP’s 24 hour hotline by calling 860-424-3333.”

Hicks added the responsibility really lies with DEEP, who responding officers will contact when they arrive on scene where a bear is. The DEEP is better equipped to handle a bear by using tranquilizers and other methods when necessary, he said.

“The mere presence of a bear does not necessitate its removal,” DEEP said on its website. “However, the department may attempt to remove bears from urban locations when there is little likelihood that they will leave on their own and when they are in positions where darting is feasible.”

DEEP recommends not feeding bears, removing bird feeders between late March and November, placing garbage cans and grills in a garage, and not leaving pet food or small pets outside.

“It’s very helpful in preventing bears from becoming too comfortable in the presence of humans,” said Sawyer.

While out on the trail hiking or camping, make your presence known by making noise while hiking and use rope to suspend food between two trees, away from tents, experts recommend. Use electric fencing to protect livestock and move them into barns at night, and reinforce beehives to prevent them from being knocked over.

State Senate Bill 894, an act concerning the nonlethal management of the black bear population in Connecticut, passed on Tuesday. Two other bills in the Senate, Bill 231 and Bill 5393, which propose hunting as a means of controlling the bear population, were referred to the Joint Committee on Environment.

Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin, New Britain on Thursday, 23 May 2019 21:10. Updated: Thursday, 23 May 2019 21:13.