Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Click on a photo to enlarge

Tuesday evening Terrance Gallagher and Rich Skudlarek attended a slideshow presentation at the Derby Library by Felicia Ortner, DEP Master Wildlife Conservationist. The subject was black bears in Connecticut and how to co-exist with them. At first I thought this meant setting aside a room for them in your house, planning meals that included berries, leftovers, and an occasional chipmunk, and being very careful not to wake them suddenly during hibernation. But the gist of the talk covered habits and habitat, bear encounters and how to react, and how to prevent bear intrusions in your yard and at your campsite. Since the only bears found in this part of the country (outside if the zoos, if you want to get technical) are black bears, most of the presentation was limited to this species.

Mother black bears are notoriously protective of their cubs, who stay with their mothers for about two years.

Black bears are here and have been sighted in Shelton and the surrounding areas, so we must learn to deal with it! They are protected and it is illegal to hunt or kill them, except in self defense, of course. But there is little to fear with black bears, assuming you use common sense when encountering them. It is extremely rare for a black bear to attack a person unless it senses that it or its cubs are threatened. Even at that, it may bluff an attack, hoping that you will depart with extreme prejudice.

Cubs are taught from early on to climb when in
danger, although they can
make themselves very
comfortable perched on a branch

There probably aren't many things cuter than a bear cub, but they should remain cute from a distance. Like any protective mother, a black bear sow will do whatever it takes to protect her cubs if she feels they are in danger.

This photo and the next were taken by me in Yellowstone National Park. Note the Mom snoozing below on the boulder while junior catches forty winks up in the tree.

Like many of us, mama bear turns over in her sleep to get more comfortable (how does one get comfortable sleeping on a boulder?).

O.K, so this guy's giving us the raspberries, but there's lots more to learn about the black bear, and the Connecticut DEP has a very informative website that includes black bear sightings. Check it out:

The North American Bear Center has an interesting site that includes a live webcam covering a hibernating black bear. Follow the progress as she cares for her cub in their den (click on "Lily Den Cam"):

....and last but not least.....

DO NOT confuse this with a black bear!!! The folks happily picnicking on the Shelton Land Trust Lane St. meadow are naively unaware that once this polar bear awakens from his comfy slumber, they are the hors d'oeuvres on his picnic menu! Do not make this same mistake! The Trails Committee is not responsible for loss of life or limb to polar bears!


  1. I'm one of the people in that last photo and, oddly, I don't remember seeing that polar bear. I guess their camouflage really works.

  2. Yes. Had the camera been facing the other way it would have shown bedsheets and whites on a clothesline behind the bear, effectively rendering it invisible.