WINSTED — The black bear sightings around town continue, with police receiving several reports of the large wild animals peacefully strolling about in the early evening and morning hours throughout much of last week.
“It’s almost a daily occurrence,” Winsted Deputy Chief Robert Scannell told The Journal Tuesday.
Most recently, the department received reports of two bears roaming Hick Street and Torringford Road around 10 p.m. Oct. 21.
Winsted Police also responded to sightings along Central Avenue and Maloney Court just before sunrise Oct. 20.
Earlier last week, a black bear with yellow state Department of Environmental Protection tags was seen walking along Rowley, Lovely and Hurlbut streets in the late morning Oct. 17.
And there have been numerous other sightings over the past several months, including an incident in September in which a large, male black bear appeared to hide from police and other bystanders behind a stone wall and bushes along Bank Street and Mountain Avenue for several minutes before retreating to a nearby wooded hillside.
Scannell said the bears are most likely not members of one family, but separate groups or individuals that now reside in the area.
“There have been a few around for the past several months,” he said.
Black bears sightings throughout the state — particularly here in the Northwest Corner — have steadily risen over the last several years.
Thirty years ago, it was extremely rare for a bear to be sighted in Connecticut.
State DEP officials estimate that the number of reported sightings of black bears has increased an average of 20 percent a year over the last few years.
And while a variety of factors have contributed to the steady growth in sightings — such as improved reporting methods — the main reason is there are just more bears, state officials say.
According to the latest figures from the state, there have been been 37 reported black bear sightings in Winchester/Winsted, 80 sightings in Barkhamsted, 65 in New Hartford, 26 in Hartland, 14 in Colebrook and 10 in Norfolk.
For more information about black bears or to report a sighting, visit ct.gov/dep or call the DEP’s 24-hour hotline at 860-424-3333.