Black Bears in CT

February 26, 2015: Return of Black Bears in Connecticut by Felicia Ortner

Some four hundred to eight hundred black bears roam the woods and hills of Connecticut, primarily in the Northwest area

The reforestation of Connecticut over the last 150 years has provided a great habitat for black bears. Depicted as a threat to humans in movies and in many magazines the reality is that these black bears seek to avoid confrontation. Normally they retreat from humans. The real problem is that they are a nuisance. Their appetites are voracious. They target our bird seed, our garbage buckets, our camp food. Ms. Ortner concluded that the black bear is much more a nuisance than a danger.

In neighborhoods frequented by bears, Ortner recommends that birds be fed only in the winter when the bears hibernate. Garbage buckets should be kept inside. In the woods campers should not leave food in their tent.

Whenever, a black bear is encountered, Ortner suggests that loud noises usually will scare off the bear. As a last resort pepper spray should be used. Bears can run thirty miles an hour and can climb trees better than lumbermen. They can’t be outrun or out climbed. She recommends that hikers carry pepper spray.

Occasionally, a black bear will wonder into a suburb or city. This bear should be monitored by the local authorities. Neighbors should be warned. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection should be advised. In the event that the black bear appears dangerous then it should be tranquilized. The State DEEP will return the tranquilized bear to the woods. Ortner emphasized that it is unlawful to shoot a black bear. With the use of a tranquilizer gun it should be unnecessary to kill the wandering or lost bear.