CT Woman Attacked by Bear, Expert Says We All Need to Be Bear Aware
According to NBC CT, a 74 year old Avon woman was attacked by a bear on Friday (4/21/23).
Reportedly, the woman was out walking her dog and was attacked by a bear likely protecting it's cubs. The victim declined medical attention when experts arrived but checked herself into the hospital later that day and was treated for minor wounds. Officials from DEEP say the bear was euthanized.
We discussed this on the Ethan. Lou & Large Dave Show early Monday morning (4/24/23) but we fell short of accomplishing anything.
When we ran out of Cocaine Bear references, we spoke to our wildlife expert Jen "The Zookeeper" to get her professional take on the unfortunate circumstances. This is a portion of our interview.
I sent you the story, what was your takeaway?
"Another one bites the dust, unfortunately because of human encroachment. It's just about education with these large mammals that really, they are trying to stay out of our way. My first reaction was, we need to teach folks how to be bear aware and live in a state with these animals and understand that you have to try and do your best to stay away from these areas where a bear has been seen or cited. Even if it has not been in the area, you need to know what to do if you're approached by one. The first thing I thought of was okay, usually the only reason a bear will attack or at least posture which means he bluffs. He'll run up to you like a drunk guy in a bar and say, you want a piece of me? That is pretty much what they are doing, they don't really want to fight but they want to look intimidating. It's usually because the bears have cubs and that was the instance for this one. She had, 1st year cubs so they weren't babies, they were ready to go out on their own. But she's still a mama bear and she's still going to be very protective. That's it, she's just being protective. They have an incredible sense of smell, they smell you coming a mile away. Their sense of smell is better than the best dog, the bloodhound who has an incredible sense of smell. They actually can see, scientists are discovering they can see just like humans. So, they don't have poor eyesight, they can see you and most of the time, wildlife know you're coming before you're even there. So, if you continue to approach them, that is it, they have to decide what to do. So, I don't know exactly what happened, she got bit on the arm and the leg. I'm sure she thought those dogs were predators and she wanted to keep her family safe."
You said something off the air, when something like this happens, it goes on the bear's record for lack of a better term...
"Right, that's what DEEP is here for and US Fish and Wildlife, they're here to protect the people. Obviously, we have to protect folks that live here in the neighborhood before the wildlife especially if the wildlife is becoming dangerous. So, they had no choice, I try and keep politics out of it especially not being there and knowing what really happened. But it really is a shame that this bear was shot. Luckily the cubs are old enough that they can go out on their own but it's still a shame when anything like this happens. So, you just have to be aware. Most of these animals come out at dawn and dusk. If they're not, it is not because they're rabid, it's not because they are sick, they don't wear a watch. They are just walking around looking for food, especially the barbecue grills that you leave freshly marinating after Sunday night's barbecue or the trash that is not secure enough. You have to start being aware of your surroundings and we really can avoid this. And if you can't make sure you carry a big stick or some bear spray. When I was a dog walker in California, I was interacting with mountain lions and all sorts of animals on the trail. So, it's very important that you, yourself are protected. That's not to say that you should go running around macing predators in the face or karate chopping a bear."
"They are better at resolving conflict than us. They at least bluff and try and do these fake charges and say hey, I'm just protecting my family. If you back away, don't look at me head on, don't make eye contact just stand up, wave your arms so I can see you're a human and you go your way and I'll go mine."
- Clean your grills.
- Secure your garbage properly.
- Don't leave food out.
- Don't keep approaching a bear after it has recognized you.
- A bear doesn't want to fight you but it will.
- Bears can smell like you read about.
- Don't mace bears for fun.
- Don't attempt karate on bears.
- Carry a big stick.
- Make sure the bear is aware of you.
- Don't make eye contact or look at them head on. (They are like Mick Jagger)
You can listen to out entire interview with Jen "The Zookeeper" Kotkin below.
More on Jen "The Zookeeper" Kotkin:
Jen has been immersed in the conservation & science education field for over 30 years. While working as Director of Animal Care for The New Canaan Nature Center in Connecticut, she was responsible for the care of native wildlife and birds of prey, while teaching the public about the roles of these wild neighbors. While with the Bronx Zoo and Los Angeles Zoo, Jen’s main priority was the care of exotic hoofstock, again while teaching the public about the delicate balance of humans & habitats. While working with a wildlife sanctuary in Half Moon Bay, CA, Jen played a major role in the wildlife training and handling of some 50 exotic species. Her major focus was creating curriculum for a variety of programs including at-risk and foster youth programming. These programs encompassed helping fragile children gain a sense of trust and worth while developing a healing relationship with the non releasable wildlife at the sanctuary.
Currently, Jen is the owner and sole proprietor of Jen Kotkin Pet Care, providing pet care as well as mental and physical exercise & stimulation for dogs, cats, horses, birds and more. Jen continues to create a variety of programs catered to the needs of many organizations. Her passion for teaching about the natural world to those around her is important, and hopes to ignite this spark for others, just as it did for her!