Black Bear Sighting on Smith Ridge Road


A black bear was spotted Sunday afternoon on Smith Ridge Road up near Grace Farms, officials say.

While unusual this deep into the winter, the Feb. 13 sighting follows some unseasonably warm days last week that likely roused the bear from its slumber, according to Animal Control Officer Allyson Halm.

When that happens, the bears are in a “torpor” state which is similar to a restless sleep, and will go back to hibernating, though not before searching for food, Halm said.

“The concern I would have is, what is the food source?” Halm said. “They are out, they are going be hungry, so it’s our garbage cans that we really have to be conscious of. It just shows that we cannot let guard down year-round, we have to always be on point with the animals that live around us.”

According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, black bears are “not classified as true hibernators but their body temperature is lowered and heart rate slowed during winter denning.”

“Denning enables bears to overcome unfavorable weather conditions and lack of food during winter. Denning bears do not eat, drink, urinate, or defecate. However, they will usually wake up if disturbed during their winter dormancy. Bears commonly den under fallen trees or in brush piles, but varied sites are used, including rocky ledges. Most dens are lined with leaves, grass, or rotted wood. In Connecticut, most bears den from late November through mid-March. Females tend to remain in the den for a longer period of time than males.”

In November, a black bear broke into a chicken coop in northeastern New Canaan and killed chickens inside it, officials said. The prior month, a resident of the same area photographed a mother bear and two young cubs on their property. 

Halm has said New Canaan is seeing an increasing number of black bears appear each spring. The first reported bear sighting of 2021 came in June, on Briscoe Road. That same week, a black bear showing state tag number ‘211’ on his ears could be seen devouring a young fawn near a Logan Road bus stop.Black bears typically breed in late June or early July, according to the state. During that time, males travel extensively in search of females. In New Canaan, bear sightings are reported to police all throughout town. 

In the most recent sighting, a Smith Ridge Road resident saw a large black bear crossing their yard in the direction of Grace Farms, Halm said.

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