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Connecticut warns of foraging bears amid acorn crop failure

A large boar, or male, black bear walks along the edge of the forest.
jared lloyd / Moment RF
Getty Images
A large boar, or male, black bear walks along the edge of the forest.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Wildlife officials in Connecticut are warning residents to be especially vigilant about feeding bears this fall, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

According to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, a widespread acorn crop failure has reduced the amount of a food bears normally depend on as they try to put on as much weight as possible to prepare for winter hibernation. During their power-eating spree, known as hyperphagia, bears need to eat at least 20,000 calories per day.

DEEP officials said the lack of acorns could cause bears to forage through trash and seek out human-associated food. In a statement released Friday, they cautioned residents to never purposely feed bears, to wait until December, when bears are in their dens, to put out bird feeders, and to store garbage in secure, airtight containers in closed garages or storage areas.

Wildlife officials have already recorded 69 incidents of bears breaking into homes this year, surpassing the previous record of 45 in 2020.

“Bears that are attracted to homes by easily accessible foods lose their fear of humans,” DEEP Wildlife Division Director Jenny Dickson said. “Bears that are rewarded by easy meals spend more time in neighborhoods and near people, increasing risks to public safety, the likelihood of property damage, and the possibility that the bears may be hit and killed by vehicles.”

The state’s black bear population is estimated to be over 1,000.

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