State Lawmakers Call for Bear Hunt After Hiker Injured in Southbury

Two Connecticut lawmakers are calling for a bear hunt after a hiker was injured by a black bear in the woods in Southbury on Saturday.

Authorities said a man encountered a black bear while hiking in the woods and was knocked down by it. The man was able to safely getaway from the bear, which fled into the woods.

The 38-year-old Newtown man was taken to Danbury Hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries, experts said.

On Monday Sen. Eric Berthel (R-Watertown) and Sen. Craig Miner (R- Litchfield) released a joint statement pushing for a bear hunt to control the bear population.

“We are relieved to hear that the hiker involved in this incident was not seriously hurt,” said Berthel and Miner in a statement. “However, we are concerned that, given the explosion in black bear population in the western part of the state, these incidents will only continue. We have seen livestock and pets killed, and now a hiker has been attacked. If something isn’t done to properly manage the bear population, we feel a real tragedy is inevitable.”

According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the black bear population in Connecticut is expanding, and reports of sightings are on the rise, even in heavily populated areas. There were over 8,000 bear sightings reported in 2018. 

University of Connecticut researcher Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse explains what her study revealed about where bears live in Connecticut. 

The idea of a bear hunt has long been floated as a way to control the population in Connecticut. DEEP has come out in support of the idea, but opponents have argued it is not the best approach. 

Bear hunting is permitted in different degrees in four out of six New England states, and New York and New Jersey.

If you observe a black bear from a distance, DEEP suggests you advertise your presence with noise or movement and walk away slowly. Never attempt to feed or attract black bears. It is exceptionally rare for a bear to attack once they have sensed a human.

Bears are typically attracted to garbage, pet food, compost piles, fruit trees and birdfeeders, according to DEEP. For a list of do's and don't on what to do when you encounter a bear, click here.

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