Bear B-1, After Traveling The Shoreline, Appears To Be Favoring North Madison For Now

Initially tagged in 2010 near Windsor Locks, Bear B-1 as been sighted all over the southern part of the state, with an unusually wide range for a female yearling. For the past few weeks, she's been content to call North Madison home.


Darren Kramer on Genesee Lane woke up Tuesday morning to find Bear B-1 chowing down on some bird feeders in his yard.

She clearly has been making the rounds in North Madison. In late July, not too far from two schools. Shannon Brady saw her in North Madison on August 6, 2012. Jim Rode saw her on August 8, 2012 near the intersection of County Road and Route 79 in North Madison. And she's been sighted several times in the past few weeks in the Genesee Lane area, which is off of Race Hill Road north of Old Toll Road in North Madison, Kramer says.

Paul Rego, a wildlife biologist with the State Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP), said that Bear B-1 has traveled all over the southern part of Connecticut over the past few years and that it appears as though she is a girl bear.

Bear B-1 probably a girl, and probably still a yearling

"We're pretty sure she is a female," he said. "She was originally tagged in 2010, so we think she is about 1 1/2 years old at this point." That means she still technically is considered a "yearling" and likely is not breeding at this point. Bear B-1 iseems to have an unusually large range for a female yearling, Rego said, But other than that, her food-seeking behavior seems pretty typical of a growing bear her age, he said.

Rego said Bear B-1 is one of many bears that have been sighted this year in Connecticut and that there have been many sightings of bears. The DEEP estimates the state's bear population at approximately 500 bears. In 2011, the DEEP received nearly 3,000 bear sighting reports from 122 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, including many towns along the shoreline, where Bear B-1 seems to be settling in.

"Over the past two or three decades, the bear population has been growing," he said. "It seems like each year there are more sightings." Rego said the regrowth of forested areas around the state are providing a hospitable habitat for bears.

Bears usually easy to shoo off

Rego said bears are only considered a problem if they start to threaten and attack pets or livestock, or if they break into a home. He said that is very uncommon and that most bears do no more than startle homeowners, and are usually pretty easy to shoo off.

"Our main concern is that we don't want bears to become habituated to humans, and lose their fear of people," he said. "Bears can become increasingly bold if they find food near homes."

On August 8, it appeared Bear B-1 was looking for food, Rode said. "She was eating the garbage and then roaming around the yard. Looked like she might have crossed Rte 79 heading east but she probably headed back into water company property," he said. "Guess we'll keep the cans in for a while."

Tuesday morning, Kramer said he watched and photographed the bear for about ten minutes, along with his family, from a safe distance. They he fired up his iPhone and show his parents in Wisconsin the bear live via FaceTime.

Bear B-1, once again, is reluctant to wander off

He then tried to shoo it away, making a variety of noises. None were particularly successful in getting Bear B-1's attention.

"After trying a number of noises to get a reaction, I blew out a loud puff of air, and that really got the bear's attention. It sat up on its back paws, shot me the stink eye for a second, and took off into the woods," he said. "I warned the neighbors with dogs and small kids to keep their eyes open."

Kramer said he was startled by the bear's reaction to the sound. "It changed [her] whole mood in a second," he said. He said he then learned bears sometimes make snorting or puffing noises when they are angry.

Just leave them alone and they will probably wander off

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission said in this article on its website that huffing and puffing, and snorting noises, are sometimes typical of bears that are trying to scare something or someone off. Kramer says the puffing noise did get Bear B-1's attention quickly.

"DEEP tells folks to just leave them alone, and that is probably the best idea," Kramer said. "I really think they are pretty harmless, (except for garbage cans and bird feeders)."

Rego and other wildlife experts say that is exactly correct, that removing bird feeders and securing garbage cans will go a long way towards discouraging Bear B-1 and other bears from hanging around.

Here is some information from the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection on how to prevent bear visits and what to do if a bear visits your yard:

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) reminds residents to take steps to reduce contact and conflicts with black bears.  These steps become increasingly important as bears emerge from winter hibernation looking for food and because the state’s bear population is growing.  This growing and expanding population is estimated at approximately 500 bears, increasing the need for people to know how to prevent problems.  In 2011, the DEEP received nearly 3,000 bear sighting reports from 122 of Connecticut’s 169 towns.  This spring, the department has already received several reports of bears traveling through populated areas and coming into contact with humans and domestic animals.  When bears emerge from their winter dens, natural foods are scarce and, as a result, bears are often attracted to human-provided foods found near homes. 

“As Connecticut’s bear population continues to grow, residents of our state should familiarize themselves with steps they can take to avoid contact with this species,” said Susan Frechette, DEEP Deputy Commissioner.  “Most conflicts occur when bears are attracted close to homes by food sources that are easy for them to access, such as bird seed, garbage, and residue on grills.  This can lead to more serious problems, including habituated bears that have lost their fear of humans.”

The two most common bear attractants are bird seed and poorly-stored household garbage.  Birdfeeders should be taken down and put away during spring, summer, and fall.  Household garbage should be stored in closed garages or sheds.  In cases where this can’t be done, adding ammonia to cans and bags can discourage pilfering by bears and other animals.  Other items that can attract bears include pet and livestock foods, grease and drippings on barbecue grills, sweet or fatty food scraps in compost piles, and fruit-bearing trees.

Keep animals as distant from forested areas as possible

Although uncommon, bears may attack and kill livestock, such as sheep, goats, pigs, and fowl.  They also can destroy unprotected beehives.  One of the best precautions for these problems is well-maintained electric fencing.  Other recommendations for livestock growers include moving animals into sheds or barns at night, keeping feed contained, keeping animals as distant from forested areas as possible, and using guard dogs.

The DEEP encourages residents to take the following simple steps to avoid problems with black bears:

1.      NEVER feed bears.

2.      Take down, clean, and put away birdfeeders by late March. Store the feeders until late fall.  Clean up spilled seed from the ground.

3.      Store garbage in secure, airtight containers inside a garage or storage area.  Double bagging and adding ammonia to cans and bags will reduce odors that attract bears.  Periodically clean garbage cans with ammonia to reduce residual odor.  Garbage for pickup should be put outside the morning of collection and not the night before.

4.      Avoid leaving pet food outdoors at night.

5.      Keep barbecue grills clean. Store grills inside a garage or shed.

6.      Avoid placing meat scraps or sweet foods in compost piles.

7.      Protect beehives, livestock, and berry bushes from bears with electric fencing.

8.      Supervise dogs at all times when outside.  Keep dogs on a leash when walking and hiking. A roaming dog might be perceived as a threat to a bear or its cubs.

If you encounter a bear while hiking, make your presence known by yelling or making other loud noises.  Usually, a bear will move from an area once it detects humans.  If a bear does not retreat, slowly leave the area and find an alternate hiking route.  While camping, be aware that most human foods are also attractive to bears.  Keep a clean campsite, and make sure food and garbage are secured (for example, keep food in a cooler stored in the trunk of a car and never keep food within your tent).

Prevention and tolerance are necessary for coexisting with bears in Connecticut.  It is important to remember that although black bears regularly travel near houses, they are rarely aggressive toward humans and can usually be frightened away by making loud noises, throwing sticks, or spraying with a garden hose.  However, it is not uncommon for bears that have found food, such as bird seed, to become habituated and to ignore efforts to scare them away.  In the rare instance when a bear appears to be aggressive toward people, residents should contact the DEEP Wildlife Division’s Sessions Woods office at 860-675-8130 (Mon.-Fri. from 8:30 AM-4:30 PM) or the DEEP’s 24-hour dispatch line (860-424-3333) during weekends and non-business hours.

Bear sightings reported by the public provide valuable information to assist the DEEP Wildlife Division in monitoring the black bear population.  Anyone who observes a black bear in Connecticut is encouraged to report the sighting on the DEEP’s Web site www.ct.gov/deep/wildlife or call the Wildlife Division’s Sessions Woods office.  Some bears have been ear-tagged for research. Information on the presence or absence of tags, including tag color, letters, and numbering, is particularly valuable.  To obtain informational fact sheets about bears, visit the DEEP’s Web site or call the Sessions Woods office.

Editor's Note: The tag date for Bear B-1 was incorrect in the initial version of this story. It was corrected on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012.

Pem McNerney (Editor) August 21, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Thanks Shannon for uploading the picture.
Cathy Marsh August 21, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Wow, mighty big earrings on that girl!?
Pem McNerney (Editor) August 21, 2012 at 07:29 PM
It's a good look for her.
Vince Principato August 21, 2012 at 07:35 PM
This is what happens when your State overtaxed it residents and chased business and jobs away. Watch Earth after Humans. Pretty soon Elk will be walking down Main Street. Maybe they will buy the bookstore.
Pem McNerney (Editor) August 21, 2012 at 07:42 PM
I'm pretty sure Bear B-1 has not staked out a position on taxes or the state of business on Main Street, Madison. Not sure how elk feel about that either. I am fairly certain we still have plenty of humans in Madison.
Anita Bath August 21, 2012 at 07:47 PM
The bears don't even like to stay at Swamp Griswold!
Pem McNerney (Editor) August 21, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Yes, I haven't heard anything about any bear sightings south of Route 1, although it seems like coyotes are fairly comfortable down there. I think the furthest south we've heard of one was Lyle Drive?
Pem McNerney (Editor) August 21, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Actually ... they have been sighted further south than Lyle Drive. This from an earlier story: "On July 10th, a black bear was hanging out on Tom and Jennifer's back porch on Genesee Lane in North Madison. In the comments section of that article, Elinor Wallach reported seeing a black bear, also on Genesee Lane, perhaps the same one. Bruce Joslyn reported that he, "saw a fairly large black bear on Warpas Road near Copse road last week at one in the afternoon. My neighbor on Brookview Terrace had a black bear get into his garbage can about a month ago." Scott Wilson reported seeing one on Sportsman Hill Road." So the sightings off of Warpas seem like the furthest south that we've heard about.
Jay Berardino August 22, 2012 at 01:48 PM
DEEP left out one logical step in avoiding problems with bears, an expanded bear hunting season. I suppose we'll delay that initiative until the first infant is taken out of a stroller and eaten by one of our estimated 500 Connecticut neighborhood bears.
Pem McNerney (Editor) August 22, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Well, let's hope that never happens (the thing about the infant). Wasn't there some discussion of an expanded bear hunting season? What are current regulations when it comes to bear hunting, do you know, Jay?
Deb August 22, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Hi from County Rd in North Madison! Bear B1 was on my deck 2 wks ago. She got hold of a pan from my grill and was having a grand old time. Beautiful creature!!!
Pem McNerney (Editor) August 22, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Thanks for letting us know!
jp August 23, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Its the woods people- learn to coexist
Natalie Jarnstedt August 23, 2012 at 01:54 PM
There can be no expansion of bear hunting season - there is no bear hunting season in CT, yet, and I hope it stays that way, although there have been rumblings to be heard....
Natalie Jarnstedt August 23, 2012 at 01:56 PM
According to DEEP's Rego, there are about 500 black bears in CT. I hope that people do NOT immediately jump to the conclusion that because there were 3,000 sightings in 2011, there are actually 3,000 black bears in this state! I'm so glad that Mr. Kramer, unlike previous fools, didn't shoot at the bear, either injuring or killing her. There are still some cool heads out there!!
Natalie Jarnstedt August 23, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Whether there are black bears in CT or not, strollers with children should NEVER, EVER be left unattended! There are other dangers aside from bears.... BTW - if there were bear hunting in CT, you can be assured of many more of them in the future!
Natalie Jarnstedt August 23, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Great video! No wonder the bear didn't respond to being called "Big Fella" - this lovely young lady with earrings must have been offended!
Pem McNerney (Editor) August 23, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Really!!! =)
Paula August 24, 2012 at 02:14 AM
I would love to know why they think bear#1 is the same bear. We had a bear walk down the midlde of our street as early as 2008. there have been sightings every year since. If bear # 1 is only 1/12 -2 years of age. Who is doing the math?????Also, they are inNorth Guillford at the sme time as North madison. Obviously there are more than just one....
Natalie Jarnstedt August 24, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Maybe the tag on her ear might be a dead-giveaway as to why Bear #1 is ther same one? Did the bear walking down your street have two ear tags with Bear #1 on it?
Pem McNerney (Editor) August 24, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I'm guessing there is more than one bear in Madison. Keep in mind that the reports we've had on Patch, while most interesting, are anecdotal and likely don't reflect all the sightings. Still, Bear B-1 keeps showing up ...
Natalie Jarnstedt August 24, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Read this: http://www.newbritainherald.com/articles/2012/08/22/sports/doc5035a245b4011497514911.txt
Margaret Doolittle August 24, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Second sighting of the bear (B1)at 1942 Durham Road at 6PM Friday, Aug. 24. Loud noise from machine scared her across Rt. 79 (in rush hour traffic!) First sighting was around the same time on Tues, Aug. 7 for 40 minutes
Pem McNerney (Editor) August 25, 2012 at 10:03 AM
Thanks Margaret. From a Suffolk Drive resident via email: The B-1 bear has been to our Suffolk Drive house numerous times this summer and has caused a lot of damage. I have photos and video of her in our pool! She was here again today (Friday, Aug. 24, 2012) at 4pm. I've spoken to Paul Rego, State Bear Biologist, who isn't concerned but we are! We want our yard back!
Pem McNerney (Editor) August 25, 2012 at 10:05 AM
Hi Natalie. Thanks for the citation to the interesting article in the New Britain Herald. From writer Jim Beliveau "Now that Connecticut has a well established breeding population of black bears, what next? Should there be a hunting season? Not too long ago, a measure was introduced in the state legislature to allow a bear hunting season. The measure was not passed, and there will not be a bear hunting season in Connecticut for the immediate future. As an avid hunter myself, I still am not sure that I would participate in a bear hunt if a season was ever implemented here."
Joyce Bruno August 25, 2012 at 03:22 PM
COEXIST!!! That's the word I was looking for! Thank you jp. And many thanks to all who replied in 'coexisting' w/Mother Nature and sharing her habitat with God's creatures. Special thanks to Natalie and Deb. Early yesterday morning, I witnessed a large hawk who preyed on a wooden owl hanging on a tree branch. It was large enough to swoop up anything unattended. Obviously, it was hungry and thank God I spotted it before I took my pup out for her morning business!
Natalie Jarnstedt August 25, 2012 at 04:28 PM
From the article I posted: "But again, I am only speaking for myself, I’m sure that if a bear season were to open it would be for a reason, and it would require the skill of the many honest and ethical hunters that we have here in our home state." I am all for co-existing with Nature. The quote above is interesting because the writer admits that there are unethical and dishonest hunters - I couldn't agree more!
Paula August 26, 2012 at 12:06 AM
You would think that a bear that is only two could not be the same bear seen since 2008. That is a dead giveaway as well. I am sure bear #1 is the same bear seen over the last few months. What I was trying to point out was that we have been seeing them for at least four years.Not rocket science.
Natalie Jarnstedt August 27, 2012 at 05:23 PM
FYI: Another article on CT bears http://www.theday.com/article/20120826/NWS01/308269942/-1/zip06&town=Montville&template=zip06art
Natalie Jarnstedt August 27, 2012 at 05:28 PM
I question the following from the artcile poste before: "But the population's been doubling every five to seven years" with no signs of slowing down, said Dennis Schain, DEEP spokesman. It's about the same as certain DEEP wildlife biologists erroneoulsy claiming that deer populations double in size every two years...pure bovine excrement!


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