Connecticut DEEP officials issue bear advisory amid fall foraging

CONNECTICUT – State environmental officials this week issued a warning about black bears seeking additional food before the colder months arrive.

Officials from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said that during the fall, black bears increase their food intake to add the fat stores needed to help them survive. Winter.

“The quest for more food makes bears very active,” DEEP officials said.

DEEP officials publish several tips on best practices for reducing the likelihood of a bear encounter.

  • In the fall, bears feed on high-calorie nuts and seeds for up to 20 hours a day in a race against time. The annual energy consumption marathon is called binge eating. During binge eating, bears should eat 10 times more calories than they normally consume, or at least 20,000 calories per day. Their goal is to gain as much weight and insulating fat as possible before heading home for the winter. Even bears that live in warmer climates in our south and our den later, or sometimes not at all, still suffer from binge eating in the fall.
  • One pound of acorns contains about 2,100 calories; a pound of blueberries, only 256 calories. It takes bears several hours of foraging each day to find 20,000 calories from nuts and berries. But a single bird feeder full of black sunflower seeds or a trash can overflowing with leftovers can reward a bear with a day’s worth of calories for less than an hour of work. No wonder man-supplied foods are even more tempting as winter approaches.
  • Black bears that regularly consume human food (eg, bird seed, garbage, pet food) become accustomed (comfortable with people) and are conditioned by food (associate humans to food). As the bear population continues to grow and expand its range in Connecticut, and bears become increasingly food-conditioned, conflicts with humans will continue to increase, and bears conditioned. through food pose a greater risk to public safety and often cause more property damage to homes, cars, animals and livestock.

“Black bears should never be fed, whether intentionally or not,” said Jenny Dickso, director of the DEEP Wildlife division. “Bears that are drawn to homes by readily available food lose their fear of humans. It’s important to remember to keep the outside grates clean and the trash secure and inside until collection day to avoid giving bears a tempting snack. Bears who are rewarded with meals spend more time in neighborhoods and near people, increasing the risk to public safety, the likelihood of property damage, and the possibility of bears being struck and killed by vehicles .

“It’s up to all of us to help prevent bears from learning bad behavior.”

Other pointers can be found on DEEP’s Living with Black Bears web page: DEEP has also created a video incorporating several of these best practices, available here.

Deep-rooted officials are telling residents to make their gardens “bear-free zones.”

For encounters with bears, DEEP officials say:

  • Make your presence known by shouting or making other loud noises. Never try to get close to a bear.
  • If a bear does not back down, slowly exit the area. I
  • If you are in your garden, enter your house, garage or any other structure. If the bear persistently approaches, go on the offensive: shout, wave your arms, and throw sticks or stones.
  • If your dog is hiking with you, it is imperative that you keep the dog on a SHORT leash and DO NOT let him roam free – this is for the safety of your dog, yourself and the bear.

The most important step is to eliminate food attractants:

  • NEVER feed bears.
  • If you choose to set up bird feeders, do so during the winter months of December through the end of March, when the bears are in their dens. Although most bears enter dens at some point, some may remain active for part or all of the winter season if food is available. It is important to clean spilled seeds from the ground when feeding during the winter, and to remove bird feeders at the first sign of bear activity. If you live in an area with bears, it’s best to avoid bird feeders altogether.
  • Store garbage in secure, airtight containers inside a garage or storage area. Adding ammonia to cans and bags will reduce odors that attract bears. Periodically clean garbage cans with ammonia to reduce residual odors. The garbage to be collected must be put outside the morning of the collection and not the day before.
  • Do not store leftover birdseed, tallow meal, or recyclables in a porch or screened porch, as bears can smell these items and tear through the fences to reach them.
  • Keep the barbecue grates clean. Store grills inside a garage or shed.
  • Supervise dogs at all times outside. Keep dogs on a short leash when walking and hiking. A stray dog ​​can be seen as a threat to a bear or its young. (Dogs should be kept on a leash when visiting state parks, state forests, and wildlife management areas. Check dog and leash regulations for city properties, land trusts and other public property before you travel to these areas.)
  • Do not leave animal food outside and do not feed animals outside.
  • Use electric fencing to protect beehives, farm crops, berry shrubs, chickens, and other livestock.
  • Avoid placing leftover meat or sugary foods, such as fruits and fruit peels, in compost piles.

In the rare event that a bear appears to be aggressive towards people, residents should immediately contact DEEP’s 24-hour dispatch line at 860-424-3333, DEEP officials said.

The publicly reported bear sightings provide “valuable” information to help DEEP monitor changes in the black bear population, officials said. Anyone who sees a black bear in Connecticut should report the sighting to or call the DEEP Wildlife Division at 860-424-3011. Information on the presence or absence of ear tags, including tag color and numbers, is particularly valuable, officials said.

“A common misconception is that a tagged bear is a problem bear, and a bear with two ear tags has been caught on two different occasions for causing trouble. In fact, each bear receives two ear tags. ear (one in each ear) the first time it is handled by DEEP biologists. Most of the bears tagged were not captured as problem bears, but rather as part of a research project on the population of the state, ”DEEP officials said.