WEST HARTFORD — A bear high in a tree in the backyard of a North Quaker Lane house on Thursday is a reminder of the increasing frequency of the animal sightings in town, officials said.
Though this was the first time Gordon Binkhorst had actually seen a bear in his neighborhood, he’s heard tales from neighbors who have witnessed them many times.
“I’ve heard stories from neighbors all the time,” Binkhorst said. “This is the closest I’ve gotten. While this might seem like a busy area now, in the middle of the night, they’re uninhibited.”
Binkhorst said he isn’t too concerned about the bear impacting the neighborhood’s safety based on what animal control has told him.
“Animal control said they’re generally friendly and more interested in eating people’s garbage and what have you,” Binkhorst said. “But I’m not going to bring children or small dogs out here.”
The bear had been in the tree since the previous night, neighbors said, and had even climbed higher than it was earlier that day. The police suspected the bear may be sick.
Capt. Eric Rocheleau said the police department’s job is to monitor the bear, while decisions on what to do with the animal are made by the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
“We started monitoring it (Thursday), recognizing it was sick and watched it for hours and hours,” Rocheleau said. “We had animal control check back in on it several times. We’ve been in constant contact with DEEP. The last I knew is that they’ll let it stay up overnight.”
Animal control Office Helen Lee, who was on the scene monitoring the bear Thursday afternoon, said the department had been in contact with DEEP.
“We’re advising them every step of the way and asking them for help,” Lee said. “We’re checking on it in the meantime just to make sure it’s not getting any worse.”
Lee said the North Quaker Lane area has had multiple calls for bears over the last few weeks.
“We have so many bear sightings all the time,” Lee said. “We have nonstop bear sightings in town. This one, it has been [reported for] a couple weeks if it’s the same one in the area, which it probably is. But there’s so many it’s hard to say.”
Rocheleau said they receive multiple calls every single day about bear sightings in West Hartford.
“We do get a lot of bear calls. It seems to have picked up,” Rocheleau said. “It’s going to be a busy season, they’re getting ready to rest for the winter, so they are bulking up and will be more active eating and getting stored up.”
The main attraction for these bears, Rocheleau said, are garbage cans left outside. He said anyone who can should store their garbage cans inside. If not, there are some preventative measures that can be taken.
“The big one here ... it’s difficult but people leave their trash cans out and that’s what they are attracted to, the smells,” he said. “We had one attracted to the hamburgers cooking on the barbecue and wouldn’t leave it alone. It’s difficult, I understand, but the DEEP recommends spraying ammonia or bleach.”