Letter: Mindful approaches needed to deal with increasing bear population

To the editor,

Human interactions with wildlife need to be handled with care and mindfulness. People need a wakeup. People are just one part of the rhythm of nature connected to the earth and all living beings. Humans and animals are intricately interconnected, though we have largely lost connection with the sacredness and beauty of wildlife, the black bear.

We must live differently if we are to continue to live in peace and harmony with nature. Creating a bill legalizing bear hunting is ridiculous. This insensitive attempt to hunt bears is a disaster. The proposal of Bill SB 586, which would allow bear hunting, is offensive to everything wild and living.

Bears that arrive in urban areas are most frequently adult females with cubs or sub-adults who purposely avoid aggression by other adult bears, usually males. Association with people is a deliberate adaptive strategy to keep their cubs alive.

Wildlife control agents, trappers and hunters could kill bears not involved with nuisance behaviors.

If people need to feel safe from a bear then stop feeding birds at feeders. If people are a habitual bird watcher and bird feeder, like me, take the feeders in at night, and clean up apples that have been tossed out in the yard, luring wild turkeys, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, etc. Fence in farm animals and crops. Use bear resistant trash cans, hazing programs and other humane methods that work better to solve bear problems. These actions help reduce bear encounters. Be vigilant and know about bear behavior.

Signs are needed alerting people of “bear territory” or “be bear aware,” cautioning hikers, property owners and others. These signs can be displayed at town halls, visitor centers, parks, schools, wooded areas, wetlands and hiking trails. In this manner, prevention toward meandering bears work.

“Be bear aware” signs can be downloaded from the Wildlife Division’s section of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s website at www.ct.gov/deep/wildlife.

We need researchers at universities and state biologists to study the feasibility of creating a wildlife/bear sanctuary in Connecticut or with a cooperating agreement with a neighboring state. Such a sanctuary could be used to relocate bears that wander into highly-populated areas.

The Connecticut bear population is estimated to be increasing at a rate of 10 percent per year, concurrent with this is our sprawling human population. Bear and people interaction is inevitable. We need mindful short-term and long-term approaches.

Being human is being mindful that we share our planet with other beings, like bears.

Christine Yannielli

Naugatuck

The writer is a member of the Naugatuck Conservation Commission.