It’s hasn’t gotten to the point where it’s unbearable, but officials in portions of Connecticut and New York have alerted local residents to take precautions because of a black bear that has made himself a frequent visitor.
The animal, Bear 211, has been seen mostly in communities in Connecticut, but over the past few weeks there have been multiple sightings in Armonk. It has pink tags on its ears and was given the number 211 by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection earlier this year. Bear 211 even has its own Facebook page.
“It’s pretty comfortable around town, so if you do see this bear, please don’t attempt to feed it or become friendly with it,” said North Castle Councilman Barry Reiter.
In the town’s police blotter, there have also been multiple sightings, of a black bear on the afternoon of June 30 on Meadow Lark Lane. The next day, another sighting occurred on Round Hill Road, where it was reported that the bear had tags on its ears, and a third sighting from a caller on Long Pond Road. In that location, the bear was seen swimming across the pond before entering the woods on Pond Lane.
Budd Veverka, a wildlife biologist and director of land management at the Mianus River Gorge in neighboring Bedford, said if anyone encounters a bear along a trail, for example, they should avoid turning their back to run away. Instead, it’s recommended to back yourself away slowly and appear as large as possible.
“Most people aren’t paying attention because they’re on their phone or they have their earplugs in or they’re running,” Veverka said. “If you get close to the bear, if you encounter it, you start to back away from it but you don’t want to turn your back. Let the bear know you’re there. Make yourself look big and let the bear know you’re there.”
There was one report to town officials that Bear 211 went into a town resident’s swimming pool. On its Facebook page, it also went for a swim in a backyard pool in Weston, Conn.
If a bear comes into your yard or onto your property more than once, chances are there is a food source, Veverka said. Bears return where they know where they can have repeated access to food, including bird feeders.
“If a bear comes into your area, if it’s in the yard at a feeder or something like that, you don’t want to just let it do what it’s doing,” Veverka said. “It’s basically a kid in a cookie jar.”
Banging metal, such as pots or pans, should also be enough to signal to the bear he’s not welcome in the area.
According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the leading cause of bear complaints in the state is getting into garbage or bird feeders. Leaving pet food outside or a messy grill can also attract bears.
Spring and summer are the most likely time of year to see or encounter them, the DEC materials stated.
For more information about black bears in New York State, visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6960.html.