How common are bears in Connecticut and in Shelton?

Connecticut is likely home to an estimated 400 to 800 black bears, most of whom live in the northwestern part of the state, according to wildlife biologist Paul Rego.

Northwestern Connecticut includes Litchfield County and parts of Hartford County.

“That’s where the concentration is, but we do get reports from all over the state,” said Rego, who works for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (DEEP) Wildlife Division.

“The [bear] population has been spreading,” Rego said. “We’re getting more and more reports from farther south, including Fairfield County.”

On the morning of Thursday, April 30, a bear was spotted in Shelton. A photo was taken of a black bear in a back yard on Wesley Drive, and additional sightings were reported on Mill Street near Bridgeport Avenue, and Long Hill Cross Road near Bridgeport Avenue.

All these Shelton locations are in the same general vicinity.

Click below to see a photo of the bear spotted on Wesley Drive in Shelton:

Young males moving around

Rego said this is the time of the year when young male bears begin to venture out.

These are generally black bears born in the previous spring, making them about slightly older than 1 year old. “They are becoming independent and searching for territory,” he said.

Rego said male bears can move around large areas, while female bears tend to be more territorial and stay in more defined areas.

Reported bear sightings

During the course of the past year, 4,391 Connecticut bear sightings have been made to the state DEEP, according to the agency’s website, which has a web page where such reports can be made.

(Editor's note: These numbers, including town specific ones, have changed since this story was originally written on April 30.)

As of early this week, this included 4 bear sighting reports in Shelton.

Statewide, these are reported sightings and not necessarily documented or confirmed.

The number of reported sightings in towns near Shelton from May 1, 2014 to April 26, 2015, based on the DEEP website, are:

Newtown — 28

Monroe — 19

Easton — 7

Bethany — 7

Trumbull — 5

Shelton — 4

Orange — 2

Beacon Falls —2

Weston — 2

Stratford — 1

(Note: No sightings are listed for the nearby communities of Derby, Milford, Oxford or Seymour)

As noted by the DEEP's Rego, the reported bear sightings are concentrated in Litchfield County and parts of Hartford County. The highest numbers are: Avon, 474; Farmington, 440; Burlington, 258; Simsbury, 277; and Torrington, 216.

Click below to see the DEEP bear sighting reports web page: