Police say black bear sightings reported on opposite sides of New Canaan Tuesday could represent two different bears—the most recent sign that the species increasingly is making its home here and in surrounding towns.
The first report came in before 8 a.m. from a woman who heard a bear growling in the woods off of Rosebrook Road on the east side of town, according to Officer Allyson Halm, head of the New Canaan Police Department’s Animal Control section.
A few hours later, sightings were reported on the west side of town, on Sherwood Lane and Wellesley Drive, Halm said.
“We could have two bears,” she said. “There were no reports of a bear crossing 123 or 124, and the first bear was reported as being huge” while the second one wasn’t.
Molly Ludtke of Woodridge Drive was among the first to spot the black bear on the west side of town. She was sitting in her breakfast room when at around 12:35 p.m. the animal appeared in her backyard. Ludtke alerted her neighbors. It’s the first time that Ludtke has seen a bear on her own property, she said. The animal could be making its home in the nearby Watson-Symington Woodlands, she said—that’s protected open space owned by the New Canaan Land Trust.
The bear later was seen in a Wellesley Lane homeowner’s garage, going at garbage cans there, and drinking from a Sherwood Lane resident’s swimming pool, according to Halm. She added that a man told her he had seen a black bear some time earlier in the area of Oenoke Lane.
According to Halm, bears are here essentially year-round now “and we need be prepared for it.”
“Last year we had November-December sightings and it is not cold enough to really hibernate in the winter—they may shut down but not for long periods,” Halm said.
In June, an Indian Rock Road man took a video of a bear just outside his home—the third sighting in two weeks at the time. Residents of eastern New Canaan had reported seeing a black bear in the areas of Evergreen Road and also Mariomi Road.
The animals are increasing in numbers and have been seen more frequently in Connecticut, according the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Natural Resources Wildlife Division.
“They are rarely aggressive toward humans but can create a variety of problems,” the agency said. “In particular, bears that are fed by humans can become habituated and may need to be euthanized. Connecticut residents must learn how to reduce the likelihood of bears becoming a problem. Birdfeeders, garbage, pet food and compost attract bears close to houses and people, and should be made unavailable to bears.”
The omnivorous mammal had been spotted on Weed Street in October 2014 and then made headlines in New Canaan in April 2015, when a (rescue) dog alerted his family to a black bear that had entered the rear porch of a residence. After a black bear was spotted in June 2015 on Thayer Pond Road, officials urged New Canaanites to ensure their garbage cans were secured, and town officials issued a list of do’s and don’ts. Another sighting occurred in Hoyt Farms in September 2015.