WATERTOWN — “Hey there, it’s Yogi Bear!” Oh no, it isn’t. This bear wasn’t named Yogi and it didn’t have sweet Boo-Boo along as a companion in search of “Pic-a-Nic baskets” either. On the morning of May 16, my neighbors and I were startled (and who isn’t?) by the sight of a black bear behind our patio and then alongside our house off of Middlebury Road. Through the last few years, this has been an oft-repeated scene in Connecticut, but this time it was up-close and was most definitely personal.
As you can tell by the picture which accompanies this story, this wasn’t any Chicago Cub; nope, it was a Chicago Bear without the Dick Butkus jersey on.
As some kids wisely went back into their homes after the initial sighting, my across-the-street neighbor Nancy took the great shot on this page, and a few more, but I felt after she showed me the shots she took before going inside, this one made the point quite clearly.
That point being, from a distance, enjoy the view, but then be aware of your whereabouts and take refuge.
According to the Connecticut DEEP website, black bears are becoming increasingly common in Connecticut as the population continues to grow and expand, and mostly in areas which were their habitats before over-development of these former sanctuaries.
So with that in mind, here are some of the do’s and dont’s when it comes to bear-sighting, courtesy of portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Wildlife/Nuisance-Wildlife/Living-with-Black-Bears.
Bears Near Your Home:
Bears are attracted to garbage, pet food, compost piles, fruit trees, and birdfeeders.
Do remove birdfeeders 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.
When Bears Come to Visit:
If a bear is seen in your town or neighborhood, leave it alone. In most situations, if left alone and given an avenue for escape, the bear will usually wander back into more secluded areas.
Keep dogs under control. Stay away from the bear and advise others to do the same. Do not approach the bear so as to take a photo or video. Often a bear will climb a tree to avoid people. A crowd of bystanders will only stress the bear and also add the risk that the bear will be chased into traffic or the crowd of people.
If a bear is in a densely populated area, call the DEEP Wildlife Division at 860-424-3011, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or DEEP Dispatch at 860-424-3333, 24 hours, to report the sighting and obtain advice.
Fortunately, this bear did not hang around too long; within moments, he was gone into the woods, but was sighted near Taft School.
With so many people looking to shake the bonds of the Covid-19 lockdown, many are going out for walks with their pets and children, so it is important to be aware of where you are, be smart, and be safe.
Never, ever forget, that is not Yogi you are seeing.