The black bear population is on the rise in Connecticut, spreading to areas they have not been seen in hundreds of years. Here are tips from the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection on how to stay safe at home and when out and about.

NEAR YOUR HOME

Bears are attracted to garbage, pet food, compost piles, fruit trees, and bird feeders.

DO remove bird feeders and bird food from late March through November.

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

DO clean and store grills in a garage or shed after use. (Propane cylinders should be stored outside.)

DON’T intentionally feed bears. Bears that become accustomed to finding food near your home may become “problem” bears.

DON’T approach or try to get closer to a bear to get a photo or video.

DON’T leave pet food outside overnight.

DON’T add meat or sweets to a compost pile.

HIKING OR CAMPING

Bears normally leave an area once they have sensed a human. If you see a bear, enjoy it from a distance.

DO make your presence known by making noise while hiking. Hike in groups. If you see a bear, make enough noise and wave your arms so the bear is aware of your presence.

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

DO back away slowly if you surprise a bear nearby.

DON’T approach or try to get closer to a bear to get a photo or video.

DON’T run or climb a tree. If possible, wait in a vehicle or building until the bear leaves the area.

DO be offensive if the bear approaches you. Make more noise, wave your arms, and throw objects at the bear. Black bears rarely attack humans. If you are attacked, do not play dead. Fight back with anything available.

DON’T 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.


This article appeared in the November 2018 issue of Connecticut Magazine.You can can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale here.