A black bear visited West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square on Monday afternoon. [UDPATED]
By Ronni Newton
Bear sightings are become commonplace in West Hartford – and while they often are fairly close to densely populated areas, it’s still startling to see one strolling down the sidewalk.
That’s exactly what one bear was doing late Monday afternoon.
Matt Manning and other members of the YHB Investment Advisors team spied the bear across the street from their South Main Street office just before 5 p.m. Monday. It wandered around near the patio outside Fleming’s, and then strolled – right past the “Shop, Dine, Stroll” banners – and circled the Noah Webster statue before heading north toward Farmington Avenue.
Town Manager Rick Ledwith said Animal Control was notified, and monitored the bear as it lumbered toward and behind First Church, and climbed a tree. He said the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection had also been advised.
West Hartford Police Lt. Dan Moffo said he doesn’t recall a report of a bear in the Center or Blue Back Square, but noted that several years ago there was a moose spotted in the vicinity of the Center.
According to Moffo, the first calls regarding a bear in the Center, in the vicinity of South Main Street, were received just before 1 p.m.
“It eventually climbed a tree near the Isham Garage,” Moffo said in an email. “DEEP was notified of the sighting, and an Environmental Conservation Police Officer responded to help determine a course of action. Ultimately, at the recommendation of wildlife biologists, DEEP decided that no further action was warranted.”
According to the most recent information on DEEP’s website, there have been 309 bear sightings reported in West Hartford this year. In 2022, there were a total of 408 bear sightings reported to DEEP, according to the website.
West Hartford Police should also be notified regarding any wildlife that presents a danger to the public, Moffo said.
The population of bears in the state has increased dramatically and according to DEEP bears have been seen in every one of Connecticut’s 169 towns over the past few years – and were reported in 158 towns in 2022. The DEEP website states that bears are rarely removed from a location, with the possible exception being an urban location that it cannot safely leave on its own.
The following information about “Bear Management” can be found on DEEP’s website, along with facts about bears and information about what to do if you see a bear, and how to avoid attracting bears.
“As Connecticut’s bear population continues to increase, more bears, particularly young bears, will be seen near residential areas. The DEEP’s response will depend on the specifics of each bear situation. The mere presence of a bear does not necessitate its removal. In most cases, if left alone, the bear will make its way to a more natural habitat. Removing food attractants, such as bird feeders, reduces the chance that bears will go near homes. The DEEP seldom relocates bears. An exception may be made to remove a bear in an urban location when there is little likelihood that it can leave safely on its own and when the bear is in a position where it can be safely immobilized. In these rare instances, bears are released in the nearest suitable habitat, which is likely already a part of the bear’s local home range. DEEP Tranquilizing Teams, consisting of Environmental Conservation Police officers and wildlife biologists, are specially trained and equipped to immobilize wildlife. Bears cannot be relocated to another state because no other state allows it. Bears that have persistent, serious, negative behavior, such as killing protected livestock or entering buildings, may have to be euthanized,” the DEEP website states.
“As bears become more regular residents of Connecticut towns, it is important that people learn to adapt to the presence of bears and take measures to avoid damage and problems. If people do not take precautions, problem behavior by bears can increase, possibly leading to bears being removed or euthanized,” DEEP states.
The real bear visited the exact same location where two years ago life-sized and artfully-decorated fiberglass bears were on display as part of the WEHA Bear Fair.
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