In Burlington, CT: Bold bear forces closure of nature trails

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) closed hiking trails Friday at Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area in Burlington due to the apparent bold behavior of a black bear there that followed and approached a female hiker early Friday afternoon.

DEEP’s Wildlife staff say the male bear – which is approximately 1 ½ years old and possibly weighs about 150 pounds – followed the woman for quite some time shortly after noon. It also approached and circled her when she stopped walking and at one point it appears that its mouth made contact with the hiker’s leg. The hiker was not injured in the incident.

Video of the bear taken by the woman showed tags on its ears that had been placed there by DEEP staff in previous dealings with the bear, according to DEEP Spokesman Dennis Schain.  DEEP records show the bear was first tagged as a yearling in its winter den, as part of the agency’s effort to track the bear population, and was also captured and relocated at least one other time.

DEEP has posted signs at Sessions Woods notifying hikers that the trails there are closed until further notice.

Schain said, “DEEP staff had a chance to talk with this woman after her encounter with the bear.  We are relieved she was not injured. This was certainly an unusual incident as bears do not often approach people.”

Schain said the DEEP responded immediately when the woman made it to their building at Sessions.

“Our wildlife staff went out right away to try to locate and euthanize the bear,” Schain said. “They saw it but were not able to take action before it disappeared into dense woods.

“We did set a trap at that location,” he continued. “Our EnCon officers and Wildlife biologists are keeping an eye out for the bear and will respond to any reports of its presence.  We will euthanize it if we have the opportunity to do so.  That is the appropriate action to take after seeing this bear’s behavior today.”

Burlington is located 20 miles west of Hartford, at the foot of the Berkshires and bordering the Farmington River.