On May 3rd, at 10:30 p.m., Wayne Bugden caught Bear #36 on camera in Ashford, CT. Bugden estimates it only took the bear about five seconds to climb 21 feet high into a tree. It was probably attracted to a birdfeeder that had been recently removed, but there were still many sunflower seed hulls on the ground. Even if feeders are taken down each night, a bear may still scavenge for spilled seed.
|Even though he probably weighs about 300 lbs., Bear #36 climbed 21 feet high in this tree in a matter of seconds. In areas where he is active, it would be best to remove bird feeders until late fall. DEP indicates that wild birds do not really require supplemental feeding during Spring, Summer and Fall.
Bear #36 also likes to dismantle a foam deer archery target that belongs to Bugden’s father in Woodstock. This may be because he’s annoyed about not getting fed, or wants to make sure no one shoots him with an arrow. Occasionally, he pulls the target apart and lies on his back, playing with the pieces like a cat with a toy, says Bugden. The owner reassembles the target, and a few weeks or months later, the bear returns and rips it up again.
Bear #36’s pink ear tags are visible in the color photograph. Pink was the tag color the CT Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) used on all bears captured in the year 2006. Bears tagged in 2007 have red ear tags. This was the first time #36 had visited Budgens’ property to his knowledge, but he has seen many other photographs of this bear taken by game cameras in the Woodstock/Union area over the past two years. Game cameras are weatherproof, infrared motion-activated cameras that can monitor an area of interest. They can take night and day pictures, with a variety of sequence and timing options.
Bears are very active this time of year, as they search for food, territory and mates. As a reminder, DEP warns that you should never approach a bear. They are extremely strong and fast. Enjoy it from a distance. If you do encounter one, advertise your presence by shouting and waving your arms, or slowly walk away. "If they are challenged in any way, they almost without exception will run away," says Dwayne Gardner of the CT DEP.
Never attempt to feed or attract bears. “A fed bear is a dead bear.” Bears that associate food with people may become aggressive and dangerous. A nuisance bear that was in a highly residential area of Hamden had to be tranquilized and relocated by DEP on May 8, 2007.
To report a bear sighting yourself, go to http://www.depdata.ct.gov/wildlife/sighting/bearrpt.htm or call (860) 675-8130. If you need immediate assistance concerning a black bear, you can call the DEP's 24-hour hotline at 860-424-3333.
For more information about Bear #36, see http://www.ourbetternature.org/bears.htm or the Villager newspaper published on May 4, 2007.
Zimmerman is a Certified Environmental Professional and member of the Woodstock Conservation Commission.