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Woman Has Close Encounter With Black Bear

Tahra Richardson warns against leaving bird seed out in the warmer months.

A black bear broke a chain link fence while climbing over it into a yard in Avon Thursday and knocked over the birdfeeder on Bronson Road, according to Chief Mark Rinaldo.

But that did not scare Tahra Richardson, who saw her first black bear while visiting her friend, not far from . Standing no more than 15 feet away in her friend's screened-in porch, she used her iPhone to .

"It looked like a bear in a honey jar," said Richardson, likening the creature to a "hamster with claws."

It was much bigger than a hamster, though. Richardson said in the video that the bear was as big as the picnic table in the backyard.

"I felt so privileged to have been able to see a beautiful creature today and to have been so close and not been afraid," she said.

Richardson said that she arrived 30 minutes after the bear came into the yard and her friend called the police. In the meantime, her friend and her 93-year-old mother banged pots and pans and blew a whistle to try to scare it off.

"They made all this noise to scare the bear off and it wasn't going anywhere," Richardson said. "The bear was just hanging out by the hummingbird feeder. It was preoccupied opening plastic canisters."

Richardson waited for the police to arrive while her friend brought her mom to an appointment. When Rinaldo got there the bear was gone.

He said to avoid leaving bird seed, garbage and food out in the open because it attracts bears.

"They're lazy animals, so if it's there, they're just going to take it and eat it," Rinaldo said. "If you see a bear, the suggestion is to make yourself known. Don't run away from the bear. It will chase you."

There have been numerous sitings by Farmington residents and those in surrounding towns over the summer. 

Rinaldo said that the Avon police department has received 29 calls reporting bear sightings between January and August in comparison to 74 during that time frame last year. He said residents should call the police dispatch line if they see a bear — (860) 409-4200 — and 911 if the bear poses a threat.

"Every town needs to have a plan for its bear population," Richardson said.

She said her friend's mother is reluctant to get rid of her birdfeeder because she wants it out there for the birds.

But after Thursday Richardson said she'd advise against it.

For safety tips on what to do if you encounter a black bear, visit the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's website.

Kay Higgins September 07, 2012 at 01:55 PM
I spent some time in Maine, this summer, where bear sightings are about as common as blue jay sightings. Up there, they don't seem to bother with people or their yards. Here's what I noticed: no feeders are filled until first snowfall, when the bears are safely hybernating; trash bins are kept in enclosures, to keep out all kinds of foragers. In my neighborhood, in Farmington, we see bears a lot. The only time I had a "problem", though, was when I forgot to spray windex into my kitchen garbage (nice bits of grilled fish), before putting it out in the main can. Momma bear could not resist. From what I gather, the DEEP is keeping close tabs on the CT bear population, tagging and tracking as many as they can. Their website has a page where you can report sightings. If the bear you see has a tag, try to read the number on the tag. With this number, the biologists are able to track the bear's movements, and have an idea of it's range. It was surprising to me, how large their territories can be!

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