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DEEP Investigating Bear Shooting, Orphaned Cubs



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The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is actively investigating the shooting of a female bear in Newtown on May 12. The DEEP is saying it is leaving the adult bear's two surviving cubs to fend for themselves, and will be monitoring them through the weekend.

"The DEEP has left the surviving bear cubs in the area as it is their home range, and their familiarity with the area will increase their chance of success," said the Newtown Police Department in a statement. "We urge people not to feed the bear cubs, which will greatly reduce that likelihood. This behavior will also diminish their fear of people creating a greater danger for the bear and public safety. Newtown is working with the DEEP to monitor the bear cubs.

NPD said any witnesses to the incident are requested to notify DEEP at 860-424-3011.

Newtown Animal Control Officer Carolee Mason and First Selectman Dan Rosenthal both confirmed to The Newtown Bee in interviews that the victim of the shooting is Bobbi the Bear, a local bear with a #217 ear tag that has been coming through town for four or five years and has had many cubs over the years.

Rosenthal is actively working with the DEEP Wildlife Division to obtain a permit to rehabilitate the bear cubs from this incident with a wildlife specialist.

"I am heartbroken over the loss of the bear and the orphaning of the cubs," said Rosenthal. "While I cannot comment on an active investigation, I am working with our Animal Control Officer, Carolee Mason, and lobbying DEEP including the Commissioner to secure permission to allow the cubs to go to a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation organization."

Rosenthal said the DEEP is "engaged and involved" in the fate of the two bear cubs and wanted to dispel rumors that DEEP is looking to euthanize the cubs. He said that DEEP is actually going to be observing the bears over the course of the weekend to determine whether they can survive on their own or whether they need to be taken in by a wildlife rehabilitation organization.

Stating a preference that the cubs be taken in for rehabilitation, Rosenthal said DEEP representatives are seeking information on any sightings of the cubs so they can be observed. Rosenthal also warned the public to not feed the cubs under any circumstances, and to not go out looking for the bears.

"To feed them would be to almost guarantee their demise," Rosenthal said, as the cubs could become dependent on handouts and not learn to forage for themselves.

He also said the reason the DEEP is concerned about taking the cubs in is that they "might not make it back out into the wild" by becoming too dependent on human assistance.

Rosenthal said the story of Bobbi's shooting and the bear cubs has reached as far as the governor's office, as Gov Dan LaMont has reached out to him.

Keep Animals Protected

Mason warned residents about keeping livestock on their property unprotected.

"It attracts local wildlife," said Mason. "Things like this are the reason wild [predatory animals] come around."

Mason is the owner of five chickens herself that she said she caught "running around town." Mason said she keeps those chickens in a barn overnight to protect them.

"It's like a McDonald's for local wildlife," Mason said, referring to small animals left outside unprotected.

Mason said the shooting was "very sad" and that homeowners should take more precautions so that they don't attract wildlife like bears.

"People are trying to fault wildlife for being wildlife," said Assistant Animal Control Officer Emily Whitaker.

Mason said she is "very concerned" about the cubs.

"I think they should have been taken care of," said Mason.

A Facebook page devoted to Bobbi the Bear, a local bear with a #217 ear tag that passes through Newtown, and a new page, Save Bobbi's Cubs, are seeking support for the two bear cubs.

DEEP has not returned calls and e-mails sent from The Bee in an attempt to confirm other details of the case.

State Rep Raghib Allie-Brennan reached out to The Bee saying he was very concerned about the incident, and that he would be monitoring the situation, adding that he hopes the cubs can be rescued and kept safe.

Anyone who observes a black bear in Connecticut is encouraged to report the sighting on DEEP’s website or send an e-mail to deep.wildlife@ct.gov.

Associate Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at jim@thebee.com.

A photo of Bobbi the bear. —Photo courtesy of the Bobbi the Bear #217 Facebook page.
Bobbi's bear cubs in a tree. —Photo courtesy of the Save Bobbi's Cubs Facebook page.
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