WESTPORT, CT - Because of evidence of a growing number of black bears observed in its Trout Brook Valley Conservation Area spanning Weston and Easton, Aspetuck Land Trust (ALT) has decided to post new “Be Bear Aware” notices in select locations in the 1,008-acre preserve.
“Black bears typically fear humans and flee when they are known to be near but there can always be exceptions. With wild animals we need to err on the side of caution even though we have had no incidents to date. The way people behave can determine much about how bears behave,” said David Brant, Executive Director of ALT.
Black bears, benefitting from the re-growth of forest areas and a state ban on bear hunting, are appearing across Connecticut and elsewhere. They are seen far outside conserved areas. Any neighborhood where houses have two or three acre lots are potential black bear habitats, according to Professor Rittenhouse.
The new ALT warning signs are informed by guidance from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The signs urge hikers to make noise while hiking, hike in groups and to make sure dogs are leashed. If a bear is observed, make enough noise so the bear is aware of your presence. Never approach a bear. If the bear does not leave, back away slowly. Never run or climb a tree. If a bear does approach, hikers are urged to make more noise, wave arms and throw objects at the bear.
Hikers and people living in the vicinity of Trout Brook Valley have reported seeing from three to five bears. Bears have also been photographed in hidden wildlife cameras at Trout Brook Valley.