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Growing Bear Numbers Lead To Fairfield County Sightings

WILTON, Conn. – A black bear sighting had New Canaan residents on alert, and residents of Wilton and other Fairfield County communities should take note.

Black bear sightings around Connecticut are on the rise, and a growing number have been spotted in Fairfield County.

Paul Rego, a wildlife biologist with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said the black bear population in the state has grown over the past 30 years.

In Wilton, animal control officer Robert Napolean said that so far he has nothing to report.

“We haven’t had any sightings this year in Wilton to my knowledge,” he said.

But Napolean added, “It’s very common to have a few sightings per year because they’re native to Connecticut.”

In New Canaan last week, a black bear weighing about 250 pounds was spotted in the area of Smith Ridge and Country Club roads.

With more of the animals around, Rego said, they are expanding from their usual hot spots in the northwestern portion of the state in Litchfield and Hartford counties and showing up in lower Fairfield County.

“The population is growing and spreading, so there are more and more reports of them in the southern part of the state,” Rego said. “They’re kind of returning to a better habitat. We have more forest than decades ago. The forest has regrown, and that has been important for habitat and suitable living.”

New Canaan’s animal control officer Mary Ann Kleinschmitt said the bear that visited New Canaan on July 24 meandered into the woods near the New Canaan Country Club. Police warned residents to keep their domestic animals indoors and to bring bird feeders and other food inside, as bears are usually on the hunt for food.

“Usually they keep moving until they find some territory that they’re comfortable in,” Kleinschmitt said.

Don’t expect to see a parade of bears in the downtown areas of Wilton or other Fairfield County communities, Rego said, as bears do not want to deal with people. If someone notices a bear, making a noise can cause it to leave.

"It’s very rare for them to be aggressive around people,” Rego said.

If you see a bear, call the Wilton Police Department at 203-834-6260.

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