Black Bear Knocked Down and Injured Man Hiking in Connecticut Woods

A hiker was injured during an encounter with a black bear in Southbury, Connecticut on Saturday, according to officials.

The 38-year-old man was walking near Lake Zoar when he came across the animal, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) said.

The bear reportedly knocked the man down, but the hiker was able to make a safe escape. The animal then ran into some nearby woods, NBC Connecticut reported.

Medical staff at Danbury Hospital subsequently treated the man for non-life threatening injuries and he was discharged later that day.

Environmental conservation police carried out a search for the animal after the incident, however, they were not able to locate it. A trap has now been set to catch the bear.

On Sunday, the DEEP released an advisory notice in the aftermath of the incident urging people to take precautions if they spot a black bear, the Hartford Courant reported.

"Observe black bears from a distance, advertise your presence with noise or movement and walk slowly away if you encounter one," the notice said. "Never attempt to feed or attract black bears."

"Bears in natural settings normally leave an area once they have sensed a human," the DEEP said. "Aggression by bears towards humans is exceptionally rare."

The agency offers the following recommendations for staying safe around black bears while hiking or camping:

  • Make your presence known by making noise while hiking. Hike in groups. If you see a bear, make noise and wave your arms so the bear is aware of your presence.
  • Keep dogs on a leash and under control. A roaming dog might be perceived as a threat to a bear or its cubs.
  • Back away slowly if you surprise a bear nearby.
  • Be offensive if the bear approaches you. Make more noise, wave your arms, and throw objects at the bear. Black bears rarely attack humans. If you are attacked, do not play dead. Fight back with anything available.
  • DON'T approach or try to get close to a bear to get a photo or video.
  • DON'T run or climb a tree. If possible, wait in a vehicle or building until the bear leaves the area.

The black bear is the smallest and most common of the three bear species found in North America. According to non-profit Defenders of Wildlife, there are at least 600,000 individuals of the species living on the continent, with about 300,000 of those found in the United States.

The DEEP says that black bear sightings are becoming increasingly common in Connecticut as the animal's population grows. In fact, there were more than 8,000 reported black bear sightings in 2018 alone, figures from the agency show. The bears are mostly concentrated in the northwest of Connecticut. However, they have been spotted in around 140 of the state's 169 towns.

Due to the rising population, the bears are being seen more often in heavily populated areas and, consequently, the number of black-bear-related problems is also increasing, according to the DEEP.

The bears are often attracted to food sources—such as garbage, compost piles and fruit trees—near homes and businesses. Bears that become accustomed to finding food in populated areas may lose their fear of humans, which could potentially lead to harmful encounters.

Below is a list of recommendations that the DEEP provides for avoiding bear interactions near the home:

  • Remove bird feeders and bird food from late March through November.
  • Eliminate food attractants by placing garbage cans inside a garage or shed. Add ammonia to trash to make it unpalatable.
  • Clean and store grills in a garage or shed after use. (Propane cylinders should be stored outside.)
  • DON'T intentionally feed bears. Bears that become accustomed to finding food near your home may become "problem" bears.
  • DON'T approach or try to get closer to a bear to get a photo or video.
  • DON'T leave pet food outside overnight.
  • DON'T add meat or sweets to a compost pile.
black bear
Stock photo: An American black bear. iStock