The two most common food attractants are bird feeders and poorly-stored household garbage. Birdfeeders should be taken down and put away during spring, summer, and fall. Household garbage should be stored in closed garages or sheds. In cases where this can't be done, ammonia should be added to the garbage bags and cans to discourage pilfering by bears and other animals. Other items that can attract bears include pet and livestock foods, grease and drippings on barbecue grills, sweet or fatty food scraps in compost piles, and fruit on or dropped from trees.
Although uncommon, bears will attack and kill livestock, such as sheep, goats, pigs, and fowl. They also can destroy unprotected beehives. One of the best precautions for these problems is well-maintained electric fencing. Other recommendations for livestock growers include moving animals into sheds at night, keeping feed contained, keeping animals as distant from forested areas as possible, and using guard dogs.
The DEP encourages residents to take the following simple steps to avoid problems with black bears:
Prevention and tolerance are the basis for learning to live with bears in Connecticut. It is important to remember that although black bears regularly travel near houses, they are rarely aggressive toward humans and can usually be frightened away by making loud noises, throwing sticks, or spraying with a garden hose. However, it is not uncommon for bears that have found food, such as birdseed from feeders, to ignore such disturbances. In the rare instance when a bear appears to be aggressive toward people, residents should contact the DEP Wildlife Division Sessions Woods office at 860-675-8130 (Mon.-Fri. from 8:30 AM-4:30 PM) or the DEP's 24-hour dispatch line (860-424-3333) during weekends and non-business hours.
Bear sightings reported by the public provide valuable information to assist the DEP Wildlife Division in monitoring the black bear population. Anyone who observes a black bear in Connecticut is encouraged to report the sighting on the DEP's Web site (www.ct.gov/dep) or call the Wildlife Division's Sessions Woods office. Some bears have been ear-tagged for research. Information on the presence or absence of tags, including tag color, letters and numbering is particularly valuable. To obtain informational fact sheets about bears, visit the DEP's Web site or call the Sessions Woods office.