HARTFORD — The streets of Hartford aren’t normally the scene of some wildlife, but city firefighters were called to help a black bear on Saturday.
Firefighters and police responded outside a retirement home at 151 Hillside Ave. in an area west of Trinity College for a bear stuck on a large branch in a tree.
The department posted photos on their Facebook page saying, “Don’t worry Smokey, we’ll get you down safely. »
Firefighters were joined by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, ready with a net if the bear came out on a branch.
“The tranquilizer team determined the bear was too high in the tree to be tranquilized,” said Mario Oquendo Jr., the district manager and department spokesperson.
After firefighters left the scene for another call, the bear was eventually rescued, tranquilized and moved by DEEP, officials said.
Far beyond Hartford, the number of bear sightings has increased across the state.
Bears have been reported in at least 153 of 169 cities and towns, but the highest concentration is in the northwest corner of the state in Litchfield County. The number of police calls about bears in Simsbury nearly quadrupled, from 151 in 2013 to 576 in 2018, according to police statistics.
The number of bears entering homes in Connecticut rose to 21 in 2018, from just seven in 2015. Reported bear sightings statewide increased 38% in 2018, and the total number of bears struck and killed by vehicles that year – 63 – was the highest in state history, officials said.
Solving the problem was not easy. Neighboring states aren’t accepting bears from Connecticut because they’ve had enough of them, officials say.
Since bears can smell a box of pizza a quarter mile away, they’re often on the go looking for their next meal.
DEEP state spokesman Will Healey recently said residents can help make the state safer for bears.
“With the growing bear population in the state, residents should take steps to reduce the likelihood of a bear encounter,” he said. “Intentional or unintentional feeding of black bears in residential areas greatly increases the risk of encountering a bear, putting the bear’s life at risk. Electric fencing should be used to protect chickens, other farm animals , beehives, agricultural crops and berry bushes.”
The state has issued the following animal guidelines:
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1. Never feed bears.
2. Remove feeders and store them in late March, or even earlier in mild weather. Store feeders away until late fall and clean up spilled seeds from the ground. Place unused birdseed in an area inaccessible to bears, such as an enclosed garage. Do not store birdseed in porches or screened sheds where bears would rip screens or break windows to get at the seed.
3. Place trash in secure, airtight containers inside a garage. Adding ammonia to garbage cans and bags will reduce odors that attract bears. Periodically clean garbage cans with ammonia to reduce odors. Garbage must be placed at the curb the morning of collection and not the night before.
4. Keep barbecue grills clean, then store them in a garage or shed.
5. Supervise dogs at all times outside. Keep dogs on a short leash when walking and hiking, as a bear may perceive a stray dog as a threat to its cubs.
6. Do not leave pet food outside and do not feed your pets outside.
Christopher Keating can be reached at [email protected]