DEEP: Problem Bear Euthanized

Problem Bear Euthanized
Adapted from an article that appeared in the May/June 2002 issue of  Connecticut Wildlife.

On the evening April 17, 2002, the Department of Environmental Protectionís Wildlife Tranquilization Team, comprised of Conservation Officers and Wildlife Biologists, euthanized a 225 pound adult female black bear in the town of Goshen. The bear had broken through a screened window and entered a family residence earlier that afternoon in Goshen. It then roamed throughout the unoccupied house. The DEP Wildlife Tranquilization Team was called upon to remove the bear. This bear had been the frequent cause of problems in the area for over three years and was the source of over 50 complaints received by the DEP. Over time, the problems caused by this bear were becoming more numerous, as well as more serious.

"With a long history of problem behavior in three states, and after many attempts to alter this bearís behavior using nonlethal means, we were forced to take a responsible action to euthanize the bear," said David K. Leff, DEP Deputy Commissioner. "All other options had been fully exhausted."

In May of 2001 the bear entered two residences in Litchfield by breaking screens and entering through a porch. The DEP had already received several complaints about the bear this spring, including an incident on March 19, 2002, when the bear approached a resident and showed no signs of fear after repeated attempts to scare the bear away.

The bear had been captured twice in Connecticut (May 15, 2000 and June 4, 2000) and was subjected to aversive conditioning prior to its release. On one occasion it was moved approximately 35 miles to a more remote habitat. However, moving the bear did not work. The bear soon returned to the capture area and continued its bold behavior. In addition, attempts to aversively condition the bear by using rubber buckshot and noisemakers were unsuccessful in altering its behavior. The bear will be necropsied (post-mortem assessment). The carcass will be used for education and training.

"Unfortunately, euthanizing the bear was the last resort regarding this serious situation," said Dale W. May, Director of DEPís Wildlife Division. "This bear was extremely bold and has shown no fear of humans, dogs, and even gunfire. The bear had a known history of problem behavior in Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut."

It is rare for bears to exhibit this level of habituation and boldness towards humans. The DEP receives many bear complaints and sightings and most can be addressed through education and nonlethal methods. The DEP has expended much effort in educating the public and responding to bear situations with the goal of balancing a growing bear population with public interests. Connecticutís bear population is increasing and estimated to number over 100. Several bears have been killed by automobiles in Connecticut in the last several years.

The black bear is Connecticutís largest terrestrial mammal, with some males weighing over 300 pounds. Their normal behavior is to avoid humans and, as such, most bears exist compatibly with people. However, bears that develop behavior to boldly approach humans, killing livestock, or entering buildings, can create unpredictable encounters that result in legitimate concerns for the publicís safety.

More information about living safely with black bears.

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