Connecticut Residents Increasingly Concerned About Growing Bear Population

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by: Peter Zenkl/VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Spring has officially arrived and that means our nation’s bears have begun to emerge from hibernation. Currently, black bear populations in certain states across the U.S. continued to fall this year. However, Connecticut has become increasingly concerned about the rapid growth of its own bear population.

Recently, more and more Connecticut residents have addressed problems with the Northeastern state’s increasing number of bears. Many have reported more sightings as the bears have begun to exhibit increasingly aggressive behavior.

So far, WHDH reports there have been no fatal bear attacks. However, the creatures have definitely become more brazen. Salisbury, CT resident Rob Keller, a local to the area for the last 30 years, told the outlet that last month, he awoke to find a bear physically occupying his house, just 10 feet away from the couch he’d been asleep on.

Additionally, Keller said that while he’s lived in Salisbury for three decades, he’s only seen bears within the last year and a half. Several other local residents have had similar experiences.

“We’re saturated with bears,” said Cornwall farmer, Buddy Hurlburt. The CT farmer shared with the outlet that the state’s growing bear population has cost him thousands of dollars lost in corn as the creatures raid his fields each year.

Connecticut Residents Debate How to Handle Increased Population

Now, conflict has arisen regarding how to handle Connecticut’s growing bear population.

Some have shown favor for limited bear hunting, though the outlet reports that previous attempts to pass legislation on it have failed. Meanwhile, those opposing the bear hunts have suggested less lethal methods.

As usual, these include expanded education about not leaving food in easy access areas. However, other more direct methods include the use of paintballs and rubber bullets. Animal rights activists have also suggested erecting electric fences around livestock herds and bee farms.

However, for farmers like Hurlburt, this isn’t exactly logical. “You can’t put an electric fence around an 18-acre cornfield,” the farmer said.

At the moment, Connecticut’s bear population sits at more than 1,200. Further, sightings have taken place in 156 of the state’s 169 municipalities.

For now, until other solutions can be settled upon, residents are only able to shoot at and kill bears if they are physically caught in the act of killing livestock.

Pennsylvania Bear Population Falls for the Second Year In a Row

Pennsylvania’s black bear population dropped for the second year in a row, while Connecticut’s continues to grow.

For a while, the Keystone State was home to over 20,000 black bears. However, in 2020, officials estimated a total of just 16,268 bears, followed by 15,666 in 2021. Fortunately, though, wildlife experts assured animal enthusiasts that the falling numbers are nothing to worry about.

PA Game Commission’s black bear specialist, Emily Carollo suggested that increased bear harvests within the last two years have likely contributed to the decreasing population.

Carrolo said, “There is potentially an effect of having that really high harvest and noticing those decreases in the following two years.” Fortunately, she assured bear enthusiasts, “This follows the life history [and] reproductive strategy of bears.”