Milford animal control thinks there is just one bear in Milford

A bear in a tree on Bridgeport Avenue in Milford attracted some attention Tuesday morning.  

The bear, which appeared to be a large cub, was eating leaves while perched in a tree at the edge of a parking lot at a Bridgeport Avenue medical complex.

“As far as I know it is just one black bear,” said Animal Control Officer Scott Ellingson. “There have been a few calls and sightings.”

Several days earlier people reported seeing a bear, possibly the same bear, near Mama Teresa’s Italian Restaurant on the Boston Post Road.

According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), there have been 10 bear sightings in Milford, which is relatively low compared to Avon with 550 and Simsbury with 301, for a total of 6,172 for the state over the past year.

“Numbers are not numbers of bears,” said Dennis Schain, DEEP communications director, “but numbers of people reporting a sighting. If you and I lived on the same street and we saw a bear and both reported it, there would be two sightings, but yet one bear.”

Sighting information, however, is a good barometer of the bear population, giving a general picture of where they are and what the population looks like, Schain added.

“The largest numbers of bears tend to be in western Connecticut, but as the population grows they are spreading to other locations and can be seen on occasion almost anywhere in the state,” Schain said.

Glimpsing a bear in Connecticut was unlikely after the mid-1800s, according to the DEEP website.

“Since then, bears have made a comeback. Their return is due, in part, to the regrowth of forestland throughout the region following the abandonment of farms during the late 1800s. Beginning in the 1980s, the DEP Wildlife Division had evidence of a resident black bear population. Since then, annual sighting reports have increased dramatically, indicating a rapid increase in the bear population.”

The black bear is a stocky animal with short, thick legs. It is the smallest North American bear. In Connecticut, adult males, or boars, normally weigh from 150 to 450 pounds, while females, or sows, weigh from 110 to 250 pounds. Yearlings weigh 45 to 100 pounds. Adults are 5 to 6 feet long, according to the DEEP.

Black bears travel and feed primarily at night, but can be active any time of the day. They are generally shy and secretive and usually fearful of humans.

“However, if they regularly find food near houses and areas of human activity, they can lose their fear of humans,” according to the DEEP. “Unlike grizzly bears, black bears are seldom aggressive toward humans.”

Bears are omnivorous — they eat grasses, forbs, fruits, nuts and berries. They also will seek insects (particularly ants and bees), scavenge carrion, and raid bird feeders and garbage cans. Bears occasionally will prey on small mammals, deer and livestock, the DEEP reports.

“As Connecticut’s bear population continues to increase, more bears, particularly young bears, will be seen near residential areas,” the DEEP website states. “The DEEP's response will depend on the specifics of each bear situation. The mere presence of a bear does not necessitate its removal. In most cases, if left alone, the bear will make its way to a more natural habitat.”

Milford’s animal control officer is not surprised that a bear or bears have moved into the area.

“Not really all that surprised at there being black bears in Connecticut because it was part of their range in the past,” Ellingson said. “Increasing expansion of cities and increasing bear populations will inevitably lead to more sightings.”