A Fed Bear Is A Dead Bear

Don't feed the bears

"Don't feed the bears," was the key point in a presentation on black bears by Paul Colburn, a Connecticut Master Wildlife Conservationist, who spoke at Noble Horizons on April 29. The large and very engaged crowd was an indication that black bears have made their presence felt, frequently in our backyards. There were 6,600 reported sightings in the state in the past year.

Colburn said that Native Americans regarded the bear as a powerful and spiritual creature to be treated with respect, but everything changed with the arrival of European settlers. In 1650, Connecticut was 100% forested and bears were abundant. By mid-19th century, only 20% of the land remained forested and the black bear had been shot, trapped, and poisoned into extinction. Only in the 1980s, with agriculture declining and more land returning to its natural state, did the bears return.

While the eastern black bear is wary of humans, they are on a continual hunt for food and that can bring them in contact with humans and human habitations, potentially lessening their natural timidity. At worst, a bear may become aggressive and be euthanized.

How to Avoid Feeding the Bears

  • Hang bird feeders only between November and March
  • Keep garbage in a sturdy container, preferably in a garage
  • Do not leave a grill that has not been cleaned outside
  • Do not put meat or sweets in a compost pile

Colburn asked each attendee to pass this message to five other people and to help keep track of our ursine neighbors by reporting bear sightings at www.ct.gov/deep/blackbear or call 860-424-3011.

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