Cliff Bocciarelli and his wife, Patty, took advantage of the nice weather on Sunday to use their outdoor grill for the first time this season. They had just sat down to eat around 7 p.m. when Bocciarelli noticed a large animal on his lawn. Thinking it was a dog, he leaned over to get a closer look and couldn't believe what he saw.
A black bear, "with some vegetation in his mouth, walked up to a tree and started to climb it." Bocciarelli ran to get a camera and started snapping pictures.
"After all, there was a bear in my backyard," he said.
As the couple watched the bear climb the tree, it suddenly stopped, got down and headed straight for the driveway.
"From the sound, I thought he was smashing our cars, but it turned out to be our trash can. He grabbed a bag, walked 10 feet, and lay down while eating our left over chicken. I watched him gorge until it got too dark to see him. I thought I would have a heck of a mess to clean in the morning, but to my surprise he ate most everything he took out of the can."
"As uneasy as it is to know there is a bear roaming our area, I thought it was one of the most exciting events I’ve ever seen," Bocciarelli says of the experience.
"It’s the main topic in our house, that’s for sure."
The bear was also seen by raiding their outdoor garbage cans on Bogue Lane.
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East Haddam Animal Control Officer, Michael Olzacki, says that bears have been around in this area for several years and they are not all that uncommon. They have been spotted along the Connecticut River and there have been reports in Haddam Neck and Portland as well.
Olzacki suggests two basic tips when it comes to bears:
1. Remove any possible food sources like bird feeders and garbage cans to deter them from your yard.
2. Call the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to report bear sightings to the Wildlife Division at (860) 675-8130.
"We don't want to see anyone shoot it," Olzacki said, "call the DEEP if a bear becomes a nuisance, the DEEP is equipped to trap and remove it, if necessary."