Yes, we now live in a state where they issue bear alerts. From a DEEP memo today warning residents to take precautions this spring:
… These steps become increasingly important as bears emerge from winter hibernation looking for food and because the state’s bear population is growing. This growing and expanding population is estimated at approximately 500 bears, increasing the need for people to know how to prevent problems. In 2011, the DEEP received nearly 3,000 bear sighting reports from 122 of Connecticut’s 169 towns. This spring, the department has already received several reports of bears traveling through populated areas and coming into contact with humans and domestic animals. When bears emerge from their winter dens, natural foods are scarce and, as a result, bears are often attracted to human-provided foods found near homes.
Here are the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s bear rules:
1. NEVER feed bears.
2. Take down, clean, and put away birdfeeders by late March. Store the feeders until late fall. Clean up spilled seed from the ground.
3. 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.
4. Avoid leaving pet food outdoors at night.
5. Keep barbecue grills clean. Store grills inside a garage or shed.
6. Avoid placing meat scraps or sweet foods in compost piles.
7. Protect beehives, livestock, and berry bushes from bears with electric fencing.
8. 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.