Whether or not it feels like it, spring is on the way. As such, United States bear populations have begun to come out of hibernation. Just ask one group of Connecticut hikers who reported that they were followed by a black bear Friday afternoon.
According to NBC Connecticut, the hikers reported the bear sighting on Friday as they were walking through Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden. The group spotted the black bear on the orange trail, near the park’s yellow/green line near the park’s center. As per the outlet, the first sighting of the black bear took place around 3 p.m. Friday afternoon.
Later that same afternoon, a runner reported a similar incident.
Around 5 p.m., the runner reported being followed down Sleeping Giant’s red square trail to Mount Carmel Ave.
While the black bear reportedly followed the Connecticut hikers and runner, the outlet didn’t share any information as to whether it was the same black bear or two separate individuals.
Either way, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection encourages Outsiders to keep their distance from bears this time of year. This is even more pertinent as mama bears start appearing in the open more with their cubs.
Things to keep in mind amid bear sightings are as follows:
- Watch the bears from a distance.
- Make your presence known by waving your arms and yelling, or by slowly walking away.
- Don’t feed bears.
Black Bear Population in Pennsylvania On the Decline
While our Connecticut black bear population emerges from hibernation and seems to be stalking local residents, the species’ population in Pennsylvania declined this year for the second year in a row.
With other species’ populations, such as gray wolves in the Northern Rockies, facing endangerment should populations decline, PA is not lacking in black bears. Several years ago, the Keystone State boasted a population of more than 20,000 black bears.
As of 2020, that number sank to 16,268, and last year, it declined even more, sitting at 15,666.
Nevertheless, PA Game Commission black bear specialist Emily Carollo said the declining numbers are not concerning. She explained, “There is potentially an effect of having that really high harvest and noticing those decreases in the following two years. This follows the life history [and] reproductive strategy of black bears.”
That said, perhaps Outsiders will see a growth in the black bear population next year. While black bears give birth every year, adolescents don’t reach full sexual maturity until they are three years old. So, after two years spent declining, it’s likely we’ll see a jump in the state’s population relatively soon.
And, if there are adjustments that need to be made to counter the increased decline, our black bear specialist assures readers not to worry. These are the kinds of everyday issues the Game Commission is charged to handle.