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Black bear facts

With the increasing black bear population in Connecticut and males on the hunt for mates in early summer, bear sightings aren’t uncommon in or near residential neighborhoods this time of year.

A sighting was recently reported in Monroe.

Breeding occurs during summer, usually in late June or early July. During this time, males travel extensively in search of females, according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The black bear is an intelligent animal, according to the DEEP, with keen senses of smell and hearing. It can detect the slightest aroma of food, which may lead the bear to campsites and near homes. Odor from carelessly stored food and garbage can lure bears long distances. Black bears travel and feed primarily at night, but can be active any time of the day. Climatic factors, such as drought, may result in a food shortage, causing bears to travel many miles in search of food.

Aggression by bears toward humans is exceptionally rare, according to the state agency, but they can pose a risk to pets and could become a problem is they become accustomed to finding food nears homes.

So what precautions should you take to make sure your encounter isn’t too close for comfort?

Here are the tips from the DEEP:

• Make birdfeeders and bird food inaccessible by discontinuing the feeding of birds from late March through November or by hanging feeders at least ten feet above the ground and six feet away from tree trunks.

• Eliminate food attractants by placing garbage cans inside a garage or shed. Add ammonia to trash to make it unpalatable.

• Clean and store grills away after use.

• Don’t intentionally feed bears. Bears that become accustomed to finding food near your home may become “problem” bears.

• Don’t leave pet food outside overnight.

• Don’t add meat or sweets to a compost pile.

If you are hiking or camping, bears normally leave an area once they’ve sensed a human. If you see a bear, enjoy it from a distance, according to the DEEP.

When camping or hiking, keep these tips in mind:

• Make your presence known by making noise and waving your arms if you see a bear while hiking.

• Keep dogs on a leash and under control. A roaming dog might be perceived as a threat to a bear or its cubs.

• Walk away slowly if you surprise a bear nearby.

• Cook food near your tent or store food inside your tent. Instead, keep food in a secure vehicle or use rope to suspend it between two trees.

• Climb a tree, but wait in a vehicle or building for the bear to leave an area.

With black bears occasionally wandering into heavily populated areas, Connecticut residents need to learn more about bears and how to reduce the likelihood of bears becoming a problem, according to the DEEP. For more facts and information about bears visit Ct.gov/deep.

If you see a bear, you can fill out a sighting report at the website. If you have an immediate issue concerning a black bear, you should call the DEEP’s 24-hour hotline at 860-424-3333.

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