Recent bear sightings have some residents concerned for safety

Recent bear activity in western Massachusetts has many people concerned for their safety.
Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 4:43 PM EDT
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WESTFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Recent bear activity in western Massachusetts has many people concerned for their safety.

“The bears used to come at night and tear down all the bird feeders…We used to take the bird feeders out at night and put them up in the morning, but now, they are coming during the day too,” said Angelo Della Ripa of Westfield.

Della Ripa has recently experienced several bear encounters on his property. The last one caused a huge mess.

“Last week, the neighbor told me that part of my fence by my pool was down…I noticed the bear had come on and tore down the metal fence came in and took that pail…It was just a bag of cans and stuff from kids…Left the bag there because there was nothing to take him,” Della Ripa explained.

Della Ripa’s neighbors shared some images of the black bear they have been seeing.

“The only thing that stops them during the day is my big dog and when he sees the dog, he runs away,” Della Ripa added.

The homeowner noticed something was off when he kept going through 40-pound bags of birdseed. He then realized when there was furniture tossed around his garage something was off. He asked his neighbor, who found the 40-pound bag of birdseed in his yard and he realized the bear was coming into his garage at night.

“You might be thinking ‘Why would a black bear want to utilize a bird feeder?’ but it’s a very high calorie food source that they will come into the neighborhood and use quite frequently,” said Joseph Rogers, Connecticut Valley district manager of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Rogers explained how it is not uncommon to encounter black bears in the area

“Anywhere outside of 495, you can consider bear country. We live in bear country,” Rogers noted

Rogers told us how the bear population has grown over the years. In the 1970s, there was about 100 bears in the area. By the 1990s, it was 1,000 bears and now, the estimated population is to be over 4,500 bears throughout this area of Massachusetts

“This is a wild animal, so you want to treat it with some sort of respect,” Rogers added.

He said even though there has been a recent bear attack in Connecticut, black bears are not typically type of bear to attack you.

“Most of the black bears come into the neighborhoods because of food sources that are available” Rogers said.

If you see a bear in your yard, Rogers said to make lots of noise and, if needed, call the Massachusetts Environmental Police at (800) 632-8075.