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Bear that scratched a woman at Simsbury park euthanized; 911 tapes released

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SIMSBURY -- The bear that Police and the Department of Environmental and Energy Protection said scratched a woman was euthanized.

Officials said the woman was scratched by the bear at a local park around 2 p.m. Wednesday. FOX 61 was able to get the 911 recordings of when the frantic woman called for help.

Dispatcher: okay ma’am, I can’t understand.

Woman: I just got attacked by a bear!

Woman: The bear charged me and had dropped to the ground and he scratched my pants and ripped them open and then the dog just chased them to the tree  

Environmental police shot the bear around 4:20 p.m. as part of their protocol, since the bear showed aggression. DEEP said she had two cubs, but biologists determined they are old enough to survive on their own.

The bear was tracked by DEEP after the incident with the aid of a signal from a GPS collar that had been placed on it during studies of bears in hibernation that the Agency conducts to monitor and assess the health of this species.

EnCon police said the woman had scratches on the back side of her upper legs.

The incident happened at Town Forest Park. Police said a woman was walking her dog on one of the trails just west of the baseball field when they rounded a corner and encountered the bear.

Police said she started to move away and was scratched as she turned away and the bear took a swipe at her according to the DEEP. She did not require medical attention. Simsbury police, animal control, and DEEP.

"The woman said she shouted to try and scare the bear off, and when the bear did not move, she turned to get away from it.  At that point, she said, the bear approached her and swiped at her.  The woman refused medical treatment that was offered on the scene. The woman did not report seeing any cubs with the bear, but from reports of other people nearby, it appears that the bear was a sow who had two cubs traveling with her," said DEEP.

EnCon police added while it is common for bear sightings, it is rare to have attacks.

“It is very rare, not only in Connecticut but in any of the northeast states would there be any bear attack. As everyone saw, that bear was just wandering through.”

Several towns have seen more than one hundred bear sightings in the last year. In Simsbury from June 2016 to June 2017, there’s been 291 sightings. The town that saw the most is Avon with 535 sightings.

One man who goes to the park frequently said he would never expect to see a bear pop out.

“No, I never have and I’ve been coming here pretty religiously as I say for many years and I’ve often known that they’re here but just never did see any,” said David Collins of New Britain.

DEEP said the population of black bears has continued to grow. They are reminding everyone to never feed bears or approach them. If you are hiking, make sure the bear is aware of your presence by waving your arm and keeping your dog on a leash if it is traveling with you.

The park is used by residents for jogging and recreation with a basketball court, baseball field, and a swimming area. The park is near an elementary school and adjacent to Stratton Brook open space. 

For tips on how to protect yourself from bears, click here.

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