Bear sight­ings be­com­ing com­mon

The News-Times - - NEWS - By Tara O’Neill

NEW MIL­FORD — When Ger­ard Bianchi moved to New Mil­ford, bear sight­ings were rare.

“I moved here in Jan­uary 1997. I saw a bear in the sum­mer of ‘99,” he said. “Then I prob­a­bly went about 10 years be­fore I ever saw one again. Now I see them pretty much reg­u­larly.”

Bianchi said he has seen bears nearly ev­ery sum­mer over the last few years — often more than once. Since Bianchi works from home, he said he’s al­ways around when the bears pass through, in­clud­ing Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

Around 1:45 p.m., he said he saw the bear in his yard on Burn­ham Road.

“I just saw it wan­der­ing through my back­yard so I grabbed my camera,” he said. “The bears have be­come so much more of a com­mon oc­cur­rence up here.”

He said the ex­cite­ment of bear sight­ings is starting to fall as con­cerns grow.

“I started out as ex­cited to see the bears the first cou­ple of times,” he said. “But now that it’s be­com­ing much more com­mon, it’s more con­cern­ing. It’s ex­cit­ing to see them, but I also rec­og­nize they’re com­ing into much closer contact with fam­i­lies and pets.”

Bianchi said he hasn’t had much trou­ble with the bears he has seen over the years. Mostly, he said, the bears would knock down and de­stroy bird feed­ers, prompt­ing him to take his feed­ers down or rig them up higher in the trees so bears can’t get to them from the ground.

“I know if I keep the feed­ers up, the bears will def­i­nitely keep com­ing around,” he said. “It could potentiall­y cre­ate prob­lems for the neigh­bors. I don’t want to do that.”

Ger­ard Bianchi / Con­trib­uted photo

A res­i­dent on Burn­ham Road in New Mil­ford spot­ted this bear in his yard on Wed­nes­day.

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