Two bear sightings in Wilton yards


One sure sign of spring: area bears are up and about. The past few days have yielded bear sightings in yards on Ridgefield Road and Snowberry Lane, with the likelihood it is the same bear.

Vicky Marella, who lives on Ridgefield Road, sent these photos of a bear that wandered into her yard on Sunday, March 29. He hung around from about 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. “He lumbered around the yard for a bit, checking out our blue bird houses and then he found our bird feeding station where he proceeded to pull down the feeders one by one and lay on the ground eating seeds,” she wrote in an email.
At one point during the night, an opossum also wandered into the Marella yard. The possum, she said, “stood his ground and hissed, which sent the bear running up the tree.”
Henryk Teraszkiewicz, executive director at Woodcock Nature Center, said bears are not true hibernators. “They are more like nappers,” he said with a laugh, adding they will go into semi-dormancy, waking up during the winter periodically to stretch their legs and find a snack.

“But now they are going into more active mode. It’s one of the signs of spring. They are looking for bird feeders, smelling for garbage and suet,” he said. The bear on Snowberry Lane, seen Monday night, March 30, was reportedly making a meal of a suet left for birds.
Because of their scavenging nature, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection urges homeowners to take bird feeders down between March and November. Garbage cans should be kept indoors and all grills should be kept clean and stored away after use. Bears that become accustomed to finding food near a home, DEEP warns, could become a problem bear.
Aggression by bears toward humans is exceptionally rare, according to DEEP.

Bobcats


The Marella household was also treated to a sighting of a bobcat family in December when a female and two kittens came by. Ms. Marella reported they caught a squirrel in the yard.

Teraszkiewicz was happy to hear that. “They are rodent eaters,” he said. “They will help keep down Lyme disease. Anything that eats rodents [which are carriers of ticks that harbor Lyme disease] is a good thing for us.”
Bobcats, which are primarily nocturnal animals, breed in this area mostly in winter and spring. The average number of young is three but can vary from one to eight. Bobcats have just one litter a year.
The kittens are weaned at around seven weeks and will accompany their mother on hunting trips when they are about four months old and become increasingly independent from seven months on.
The bobcat is the only wild cat found in Connecticut, according to a DEEP fact sheet, and has been protected since 1972 with no hunting or trapping seasons. Bobcats live in all eight counties but are most numerous in the northwestern part of the state.
Bobcat tracks have an overall round appearance with four round toe pads in both front and rear prints. The animals can be found in hardwood and coniferous forests with a preference for brushy lowlands and swamps as well as brushy and rocky woodlands broken by fields, old roads, and farmland. They will hunt rabbits, woodchucks, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, voles, and birds, and have even taken young, old or sick deer. Domestic animals such as poultry, small pigs and goats may also be preyed upon.