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It’s bear season, so know the tips and tricks to protect yourself in case of a sighting

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GUILFORD--Black bear sightings have been popping up across the state as the weather improves, and over the weekend Guilford was in for some company.

Danielle Borelli, an animal control officer in Guilford, said, "They are waking up. They’re getting hungry, they want food."

This is bear season. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says there were 4,500 reported sightings of 800 bears last year in all but 29 of the 169 towns in the state. Most calls were harmless sightings, but others were potential trouble.

"If you want you can get some pots and pans, bang them together, make a loud noise and scare that bear off."

But if you don’t have pots and pans with you--and let's be honest, who does when they’re walking in the woods?--what do you do if you encounter a black bear? The answer is simple: go away.

Borelli said, "Go inside. That's the best bet. Go inside if you can."

And since they’re looking for a snack, if you don’t want them in your yard you should keep your trash cans inside until the morning of pickup, and consider adding ammonia to your trash to mask the smell and keep the bears away.

Here are more tips on what to do if you see a bear:

  • NEVER feed bears.
  • Don't keep birdfeeders up between late March and late fall.
  • 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.
  • Protect beehives, livestock, and berry bushes from bears with electric fencing.
  • 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.
  • Do not leave pet food outdoors.
  • Keep barbecue grills clean. Store grills inside a garage or shed.
  • Avoid placing meat scraps or sweet foods in compost piles.

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After all, according to Borelli, the bears are not looking to cause trouble.

"We just want them to live their own life, as long as they're not causing a problem."

If you observe a black bear in Connecticut you should report the sighting to DEEP or to call the Wildlife Division. For more information about black bears, visit the DEEP's website.

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