Bear visits Wilton backyard; hunting bill defeated

The past few weeks of warm weather have brought bears out and more sightings are taking place. A Wilton reader submitted these photos, taken May 24.

Another reader reported a large black bear in the vicinity of Westport Road. She estimated it at 300 to 500 pounds and said it came by in the evening between 6 and 7 p.m.

Bears have been a sensitive subject in Wilton, with two men arrested in 2017 in a poaching incident.

They are also a sensitive subject in Hartford, where the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters reports a bill to allow bear hunting, SB 586, was defeated in the state Senate, with 22 legislators voting against it. The Senate passed the Nonlethal Management bill, SB 566, which the league supports, "as a common-sense alternative to hunting." The purpose of the bill is to identify nonlethal management practices to discourage bears from frequenting areas densely populated by humans. The league endorses greater education of the public and devices that would prevent bears from accessing food from garbage pails and bird feeders.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection warns people to never feed bears, which are attracted to garbage, pet food, compost piles, fruit trees and bird feeders.

Bird feeders should be removed from March through November and trash cans should be kept inside a garage or shed. Adding amonia to trash makes it unpalatable.

Grills should also be cleaned and stored away after use.

Don't approach bears, leave pet food outside overnight, or add meat or sweets to a compost pile.

If a bear is encountered, make noise so the bear is a ware and back away slowly.

The department reports more than 8,500 bear sightings in a year in Connecticut.