Connecticut sees increase in 2018 bear sightings

The number of reported bear sightings in Connecticut in 2018 increased significantly from the previous year, according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The most recent figures from DEEP of bear sightings cover the period from Jan. 8, 2018 to Dec. 12, 2018.

It shows a total of 8,937 reported sightings — an increase of more 1,200 from the 7,674 sightings in 2017.

The number of bear sightings, however, doesn’t necessarily translate to bear populations. The same bear can be spotted numerous times in various communities.

DEEP estimates Connecticut has a bear population of around 800.

With an estimated bear population of more than 235 in Litchfield County, there has been an effort in two General Assembly sessions to allow bear hunting. Both efforts failed.

“Based on the tagging and tracking data gathered by the DEEP, the department estimates that Connecticut’s black bear population is increasing at a rate of 10 percent per year,” DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee said. “In the absence of natural predators and with easy access to food sources associated with the presence of humans, it is reasonable to project that the population will continue to increase, with the overall population reaching 3,000 or higher (based upon observed density in similar habitats).”

Last year, there were a number of bear sightings that attracted the public attention:

A bear that was killed after attempting to enter a Torrington home.

In October, a Wolcott man shot a bear that was attacking his goat. Both the bear and the goat died.

On Oct. 24, a “very large bear” was seen in the area of Still Hill Road and Post Falls Lane in Hamden.

Like bear sighting numbers from prior years, the towns of Simsbury (597), Farmington (542), Avon (460) and Granby (403) lead the list.

Other towns in Connecticut’s bear country include:

Torrington: 392

New Milford: 311

Bristol: 236

Newtown: 230

Canton: 224

Litchfield: 214

Harwinton: 213

Brookfield: 211

Southbury: 204

Winchester: 204

New Hartford: 201

West Hartford: 199

Barkhamsted: 148

Woodbury: 142

Windsor: 134

Thomaston: 132

Plymouth: 126

Hamden: 123

Scotland: 120

Salisbury : 120

Bloomfield: 116

Redding: 115

Goshen: 97

Oxford: 90

Danbury: 87

East Granby: 80

Waterbury: 74

New Fairfield: 69

Kent: 65

Cornwall: 62

Sharon: 62

Madison: 56

Washington: 55

Bethlehem: 53

Monroe: 53

Cheshire: 49

Bethel: 34

Woodbridge: 31

Bethany: 30

Killingworth: 24

North Haven: 23

Easton: 21

Greenwich: 8

In Connecticut cities:

Danbury: 87

Waterbury: 74

Hartford: 14

New Haven: 5