Bears in CT – Towns with the Most Bear Activity [2024 Update]

Like it or not, there is a sizable population of bears in Connecticut. In fact, there has been a bear sighting in nearly every town in the state.

And that begs questions like, what towns have the most bears? And what to do if you encounter one?

This article will cover everything you need to know about bears in CT, including the overall bear population and towns with the most sightings. I’ll also cover how to minimize your risk of attracting a bear and bear hunting rules.

Family of bears in CT.

Towns with the Most Bear Sightings in CT

As a whole, Connecticut currently receives about 10,000 bear sightings a year. Most of those sightings are on the Hartford County-Litchfield County border (you can view a CT County map here). The towns that have the most bears include Avon, West Hartford, Simsbury, Farmington, Burlington, Torrington, and Granby.

But those aren’t the only towns that have bears. Nearly every single Connecticut town has reported at least one bear sighting this year. That includes both rural and heavily populated residential areas.

You’re more likely to see a bear between March and November since bears hibernate during the winter.

Connecticut Bear Population

Although there have been nearly 10,000 bear sightings in CT within the past year, there aren’t 10,000 bears in Connecticut, at least not yet.

According to the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection Wildlife Division (or DEEP for short), the current population of bears sits at around 1,200, but that number is constantly growing. A few years ago, Connecticut’s bear population totaled only a few hundred.

Types of Bears in CT (Black Bears)

Black bears are the only type of bear in Connecticut. They are native to the state but were actually wiped out in the mid-1800s due to overhunting. The black bear population has only made a comeback in the past couple of years.

Black bears are smaller than grizzly bears, although they can still weigh up to 600 pounds. Males are much bigger than females, but both can be aggressive, especially a mother with young cubs.

It’s certainly an animal that can cause serious harm, so let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to prevent bear encounters and protect yourself if you do see one.

What to do if You See a Bear

If you see a bear, never approach it. It’s best to observe it at a distance. If you do find that you got too close to a bear, it’s advised that you let the bear know of your presence so you don’t surprise it.

This can be accomplished by shouting and waving your arms, then slowly backing away while still facing the bear. Do not run or climb a tree. Bears can run up to 35 mph and are superb climbers.

If you do surprise the bear, it may stand on its hind legs and clack its teeth, blow air, stomp the ground, or growl. Again, it’s best to slowly walk away while making noise.

Agitated and threatened bears will sometimes “bluff charge”. This means they will run at you and then stop within a few feet. If this happens, it’s important that you stand your ground and make lots of noise.

If you have a dog, keep it under control. Dogs can easily agitate bears and potentially provoke an attack.

Rules for Hunting Bears in Connecticut

The only time you can kill a bear is in self-defense. You must reasonably believe that it’s going to kill or seriously injure yourself or another person. Farmers may also trap and kill bears that destroy property on agricultural lands. Anyone who unlawfully hunts or traps a bear can face hefty fines.

What to do about Bears Near Your Home

Bears typically avoid people by staying in a wooded habitat, but they sometimes venture into residential areas in search of food. The most common things that attract bears are garbage cans, bird feeders, compost piles, pet food, and fruit trees.

Here are some tips to avoid attracting bears:

  • Remove bird feeders from March through November if you spot a bear on your property. Bears hibernate in the winter months, so this isn’t an issue all year.
  • Do not leave pet food outside overnight, or at least store it in an airtight container.
  • Never feed a bear.
  • Put bleach or ammonia cleaners in your trash can. A bear’s nose is 100 times more sensitive than a human’s so this will often keep them away.
  • Avoid adding meat or fruit to your compost pile if you see bears in your neighborhood.

If you do see a bear on your property, you have a few options:

  • Leave the bear alone and wait for it to leave.
  • Make loud noises from a safe distance to scare it away.
  • If the bear is being highly aggressive and not leaving, calling the police is also an option.

Aggressive bears should be reported to the Connecticut Wildlife Division as well. In rare cases, the Wildlife Division may tranquilize a bear and relocate it.

Bear Management in the State of Connecticut

CT has a small population of bears compared to other New England states, like Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. So, as Connecticut bears repopulate, the Wildlife Division has had to adapt.

Conservationists in CT have stated that over the coming years more bears will be seen in residential areas (specifically younger bears). This is an issue since bears can become bolder as they get used to humans.

However, there isn’t necessarily anything that can be done to prevent bears from entering residential areas, aside from removing things that attract them.

The CT Wildlife Division has also stated that the presence of bears in an area does not necessitate their removal. In many cases, bears will return to their natural habitat if left alone. It’s rare that a Connecticut bear will require relocation unless it shows persistent negative behavior like killing animals and entering buildings. In a scenario like that, the bear may even be euthanized.