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Avon residents pack "Bear Aware" info session on growing bear population

According to DEEP, Connecticut's bear population is growing much faster than it was a decade ago.

AVON, Conn. — Bear sightings are not at all uncommon in Avon. Ron Cataldi of Avon, had a sighting of his own this week.

"I’m pulling out of my parking spot yesterday and there’s a big huge black bear going through the dumpster and eating all the food and having a great time," said Ron Cataldi of Avon.

"Avon’s a town that has a lot of people but it also has a lot of bear habitat so it’s kind of primed for conflicts," said Jason Hawley, a wildlife biologist for the CT DEEP.  

One of the most recent and alarming conflicts happened back in April.

"You know we did have someone who was bit a few weeks ago, 74 years old, she was walking her dog minding her own business that’s very concerning," said State Rep. Eleni Kavros DeGraw, a democrat who represents Avon and Canton.

It’s one of the reasons residents attended a “bear aware” information session Thursday evening at the Avon Public Library. Their goal was to learn more about how to keep them and humans safe.

"We’re concerned about the wildlife and how to protect the bears and how to respect them," said Carin Roos of Avon.

According to DEEP, Connecticut's bear population is growing much faster than it was a decade ago. Bears are now even living in areas considered poor habitats for them all because they can access human food.

"Those are high caloric foods, you know they get larger quicker, they reproduce, they have higher survival. So all of that is contributing to you know a rapidly increasing population in the state," Hawley said.

That’s why experts say prevention is so important. They encourage residents to take small steps like waiting until the morning to bring trash cans out and to take bird feeders down.

Residents said they’ve also been taking their own precautions.

"I have an app on my phone which is a bear horn and two of my neighbors who go into the trail regularly now have bear spray," said Norman Roos of Avon.

Black bears are native to Connecticut so the ultimate goal is to be able to co-exist with them peacefully in a home they share.

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"Living with the bears is not always easy but we have to find a way to do that," said Kavros DeGraw.

There is a bill in the state senate now that looks to address the growing bear population. It would fine people for intentionally or unintentionally feeding bears and would allow for the killing of bears in some circumstances. It's not clear when the Senate will vote on the bill.

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at mmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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