Lions and tigers, and bears, oh my. Oh yes, there are bears in Greenwich.
The Greenwich Conservation Commission has issued an alert on the Town of Greenwich website that "there have been a couple bear sightings in town this week."
The posting, dated Monday, May 14, is based upon "anecdotal reports. We want to make sure that people know we have black bears in Greenwich. Some people sent a couple e-mails and they didn’t have specifics," said Denise Savageau, Greenwich Conservation director.
Both Greenwich Police spokesman Lt. Kraid Gray and state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokesman Dwayne Gardner said neither of their agencies have received reports of bruins in Greenwich. Savageau said the Conservation Commission wanted to alert residents and provide tips on how to "live with bears" even though there isn't any concrete evidence to provide.
First Selectman Peter Tesei said residents in the northwest corner of Greenwich have reported seeing the beasts but he did not have first-hand knowledge of the sightings.
Savageau said that given the proliferation of the bear population in recent years, bears have become part of the Greenwich landscape, especially in the more rural backcountry area.
"We could have male bears that can travel 200 miles from where they were born or where they were denning for season," Savageau said. "We wouldn’t necessarily find them on Greenwich Avenue ... "
According to Audubon Greenwich's Jeff Cordulack, "It’s not a surprise, they occasionally venture into northern Greenwich and are natural part of the landscape in other parts of New York and Connecticut." He said the last confirmed bear sighting he's aware of involved a pair of cubs on Audubon Greenwich property last summer.
"It's part of nature. Live with it," Cordulack added.
Saveageau said male bears "are coming in for food. But they travel fast—they can be in and out of Greenwich in a day, just like the mountain lion that was in Greenwich and was killed in Milford (in June 2011). The only reason why they may stick around is they find something good in a dumpster."
Savageau urged residents to read the fact sheet the Greenwich Conservation Commission posted on www.greenwichct.org homepage and in a PDF document at right. "What is mostly seen are males. If it's a mother with cubs be very careful, you want to get out of the area. Males are looking for food and probably are just as afraid of you as you are of them." A mother bear with cubs, is very protective and likely to attack.
Cordulack said residents should make sure their garbage cans are secure and should refrain from using bird seed in feeders.
was arrested on May 14 after he shot and killed a 450-pound black bear rummaging for food in his garage and backyard. He was charged with illegally killing a black bear — a misdemeanor — and criminal possession of a firearm — a felony.
Any sightings should be reported to the CT DEEP and the town's conservation commission. Procedures for reporting sightings are included in the PDF at right.
Gray said police only would become involved if humans were threatened by a bear. "If it's walking through your backyard and eating berries or your birdseed—it's wildlife, leave it alone," Gray said.
Editor's note: this story has been updated to include the charges filed against the Burlington man who shot the bear.