As black bears coming from upstate move through Monroe the number of sightings by residents are increasing. Just in the past week, townspeople reported four sightings in a five day period from July 26-30.
A Dingley Dell Road couple reported seeing a black bear walking alongside their garage at 7:15 p.m. on July 26. Monroe Animal Control said the bear fled when it saw them, running toward the Hills of Monroe and into the woods.
The next morning, a man driving on Old Zoar Road told police he saw a small black bear crossing the street at 7:32 a.m.
Later on July 27, a group of campers at Webb Mountain Park reported seeing a black bear at their picnic table eating their food before fleeing east into the woods. The incident at camp sites 3 and 4 was reported at 7:45 p.m.
Monroe Animal Control Officer Edward Risko said it was a large bear — the same height as the picnic table.
Then on Monday, a Cottage Street resident getting his mail at around 7:53 a.m. turned around to see a black bear walking down the street before entering the woods. The animal was last seen heading north east toward the Housatonic River, according to the report.
The man told police he believes he saw a red tag in the bear's ear.
According to the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP), bears are tagged whenever they are handled as part of a project researching the state's population. The color signifies when the bear was handled. Bears with red tags were handled in 2007.
An Earlier Sighting
Another bear sighting and evidence of bear activity were reported in Monroe earlier this summer.
On July 8, a Meadowlark Circle resident at around 8:32 in the morning looked up and saw a black bear about 30 yards away, police said, adding the woman ran back inside. When she looked out her windows, the animal was gone.
Then on July 15, a Blanket Meadow Road resident told Monroe Animal Control that he found at 8:49 a.m.
According to a DEEP fact sheet, black bears breed in the summer, usually in late June or July, when males "travel extensively in search of females".
Black bears are seldom aggressive toward humans and are even shy and fearful of people, but can lose their fear if they regularly find food near houses and areas of human activity, according to the DEEP.
Risko provided residents with fact sheets of common cautions on black bears and hazing techniques to keep them from frequenting your yard after all of the past week's sightings with the exception of the driver on Old Zoar Road, who officers were unable to interview. In every incident, officers searched the area, but were unable to locate the animal.
Monroe Animal Control reports all of Monroe's black bear sightings to the DEEP.