Letter published in the Connecticut Post on July 17, 2015
Your July 15 article, “Bear Sightings On Rise in State,”appeared to be projecting an alarm among Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection staff. In truth, they’ve been mulling a bear hunt lottery for several years – sending alarming messages to tally bears in a way that creates a perceived need for hunting permits.
Increased tallies of bears can simply amount to one bear migrating from one area or town to another. Black bears shouldn’t be vilified because they happen to be seen in a state of 3.5 million humans.Bear hunting hasn’t been held since 1840 in Connecticut, and although it’s thrilling for Connecticut’s tiny majority of hunters to shoot a large animal to death, the better plan is to continue to educate resident on how to co-exist with bears – including commonsense measures of garbage disposal and storage. As DEEP’s biologist Geoff Krukar said, remove bird feeders ( after March) in areas where bears frequent. Watch them from a respectful distance, and don’t attract them to a human food source.
Let’s make Connecticut a model for safe, ecologically aware and vibrant living, involving bears and a diversity of wildlife rather than turning them into another violent, blood-drenched, annual sport.
President of Friends of Animals
Bears are one of the most prominent members of our Northern forests. In recent years their numbers have been growing and they have become familiar to many of us, though not always in the best circumstances.
How can we find ways to coexist with these animals of the forest that don’t involve shooting them or trapping and relocating them which are ineffective methods? Check out our list below for ways you can make reduce the chance of bears being attracted to your house or campsite and simple changes you can make to better coexist with bears.
Bears are lured into peoples’ backyards by:
- Household garbage
- Pet food
- Bird feeders
- Food scraps and smells from uncleaned barbeques
- Compost bins
- Garden produce
Garbage: Enclose your garbage in an airtight plastic bag and place in a bear-resistant garbage can. If you have curbside pick-up, putting the garbage out one or two hours before the truck arrives is helpful, but it’s even better to store garbage in bear-resistant containers with locking lids at all times, away from the house. Store recycling containers in a secure building as well and only put them outdoors on the day of pick up. Empty recyclables, like beverage cans, bottles and food containers can attract bears.
Pets: Feed your pet inside and keep smaller animals indoors at night to prevent any contact between your pets and bears. If you choose to feed them outside, immediately pick up any leftover pet food and remove bowls after they have finished.
Yard: Keep your yard mowed and weeded as certain grass, dandelions and clover are natural food for bears. Block potential denning sites like spaces beneath decks.
Birdfeeders: Hang your birdfeeder at least 12’ high and feed between November and April. Be sure to store your birdseed indoors.Use spill pans to prevent seeds from reaching the ground.
Citronella Candles: It is best to avoid leaving these candles outside as they contain a compound that is very attractive to bears.
Composting and gardening: Harvest gardens immediately as vegetables mature. Keep vegetable gardens free of vegetable wastes. Locate compost piles, gardens and fruit orchards at least 50 yards from forest tree lines or other sources of cover for bears. Adding lime to composting piles can also reduce odors and increase decomposition.
Remember, if you do happen to encounter a bear remain calm and do not run. Bears are gentle and typically timid animals, but they will respond best if you do the following:
- Keep a respectable distance
- Never get close or tease a bear. Do not offer them food either!
- Stay away from a treed bear…it means they’re frightened and it may take them a little while to come down.
- Carry bear repellent spray with you if you are hiking or camping.
- If you find yourself face to face with a bear, avoid eye contact and speak in a low and assertive voice, while making sure you’re not accidentally cornering the bear