Watch: Bear roams Ridgefield village

A bear has been roaming Ridgefield’s village.

Ridgefield police said they’ve gotten five or six reports of the bear in the village area Tuesday morning, May 26. They’ve been telling people to stay in the house until the bear is gone.

“I was driving down into town to get a coffee,” said Megan Holbert, who got a photo of the bear crossing Catoonah Street by St. Mary’s Church.

“When I first saw him, he was in a lawn to the right of the church,” she said. “...still on the church property.

“He was quite beautiful, I will say,” Holbert added.

“It was a little frightening at first, thinking that I was just near that spot watering something in my garden 20 minutes earlier,” said Jared Moore of Catoonah Street, who got video of the bear.

Ridgefield police said the bear sightings began coming in around 8 a.m. Tuesday.

“...The Ridgefield Police Animal Control Officer responded to a reported bear on High Ridge Avenue,” a police report said. “The bear was observed walking on High Ridge Avenue and did not present any danger as it proceeded south on High Ridge Avenue. The Connecticut DEEP was contacted and advised of the sighting and location.”

The police added some suggestions from the state authorities.

“Tips from CT DEEP if you see a bear:

“Observe it from a distance.

“Advertise your presence by shouting and waving your arms or walk slowly away.

“Never attempt to feed or attract bears.

“Report bear sightings to the Wildlife Division, at 860-424-301.”

DEEP, relocation

Ridgefield police expected the DEEP would handle the bear situation. Asked if DEEP would be capturing the bear and relocating it, they didn’t know.

“It is unknown what the DEEP actions will be in regard to relocation,” police said.

People at the DEEP, however, did not believe they’d been informed of Tuesday morning’s bear sightings in Ridgefield.

Will Healy of the DEEP responded Tuesday afternoon to The Press’s inquiries. “Neither DEEP’s emergency dispatch nor DEEP’s Wildlife Division were notified about this bear,” Healy replied.

“That said, DEEP rarely relocates bears,” he added. “If they’re able to travel out of a developed area, we prefer to give them a chance to do so. Also, bears have a very strong homing instinct, so they’re likely to return to the same vicinity soon after they’re relocated.

“DEEP does attempt to move bears that get stuck in highly urban settings. We’re hopeful this bear was able to get out of town on its own. We encourage people who’ve seen a bear to report it to us.

“A link to the online form can be found here:

The DEEP reports that it has had 246 bear sightings reported in Connecticut so far this year.

Crossing Catoonah

Holbert, who took the photo of the bear crossing Catoonah Street, said she was heading into town from her home on Golf Lane at about 8 a.m. when she spotted the bear by St. Mary’s Church.

“I saw him there and I stopped my car, because I saw a car coming toward us,” Holbert told The Press. She wanted to warn the driver about the bear.

“I wanted to make sure he didn’t get hit,” she said. “...I’m an animal lover so I’m trying to take care of them all.”

The sound of her car door seemed to spook the bear.

“When I closed my door, he looked up, he stopped and looked at me, he was going toward Main Street,” she said. “He’d stopped because he heard the sound, and he turned around and went through the bushes…”

He then crossed Catoonah Street from beside the church, and was loping towards the old Knights of Columbus building when she got the photo.

She was going to call animal control, but then saw the officer approaching the scene and realized someone had already called.

Holbert said the bear didn’t seem large.

“He didn’t look really big. I would say maybe about 150 pounds. He looked to me like a smaller size,” she said.

“I’ve never seen one that close up,” Holbert said.

“He was tired of self-quarantining, he must have come out to find some friends.”

Nanny spots him

Jared Moore — who provided The Press with video that may be seen on — later described the scene Tuesday morning when his family’s property was visited by the bear.

“It was at our house in the backyard this morning off Catoonah Street,” he said. “Our backyard neighbor is St. Mary’s Church. My daughter’s nanny saw it out the kitchen window and then my wife started to video it.

“It walked through the backyard along our rock wall and exited through a gap in the fence into the lawn of St Mary’s Church,” he said. “It was very quick.”

As parents, the Moores were worried

“We have a three-year-old daughter that regularly plays in the backyard so my wife and I were immediately talking about finishing the fence that I was working on this last weekend originally to keep rabbits out of the garden, now being modified — to keep bears out. Haha.

“Our daughter saw the bear at the same time and was very excited to see it. Much more than her parents,” Moore said.

“It surprised all of us how close it got to our back door. We have a small area along our back fence that it walked in, and then around to the other side. As far as we know, it could have walked through here before but this is the first time we noticed.”

Wilton attack

There have been numerous reports of bears being spotted in nearby towns, including an incident in Wilton where a bear is believed to have attacked a miniature horse last week.

“Bear sightings this month in Wilton are likely the same animal, which is believed to have attacked a miniature horse during the overnight of May 19-20,” The Wilton Bulletin’s website reported Thursday, May 21.

“ ‘Bear attacks are rare, but they happen,’ (Wilton) Animal Control Officer Chris Muir said Thursday. He recounted an incident in Kent where a bear mauled and killed a donkey about three years ago.

“Muir, along with officers from the Wilton Police Department and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, visited a home on Kellogg Drive Wednesday after residents reported their miniature horse had been attacked.

“Muir said the horse, which survived as far as he is aware, suffered several lacerations on the left side in the head and neck area. Muir said he and the state officers determined it was likely the result of a bear attack.”