NEW CANAAN, Conn. — What is believed to be a young male bear caused a stir in New Canaan when it was found wandering on an Oenoke Lane property Tuesday.
It climbed about 30 feet up a hemlock tree on the property of Emily and Thomas Nissley at 30 Oenoke Lane to flee from the town's animal control officer and first responders on Tuesday morning.
The bear, which authorities believe to be a young male bear set loose by its mother to go out on its own, was first spotted by property owner Thomas Nissley late Monday. He looked out to see what had triggered a front door motion light to activate. He soon saw the bear wandering in the front yard, his wife Emily said.
"I feel sorry for the bear. I think he's hungry and thirsty, but maybe he got enough to drink from the pond," she said about the small pond on their property.
She said she wasn't scared of the bear.
"He's not after us, of course we are not being stupid," she said.
She believes it's the first time a bear has been on their property in the 19 years they have owned the property. The multi-acre property is enclosed by an 8-foot-high deer fence, an electric fence and a front gate. She was puzzled as to how the bear was able to enter the property.
"Your guess is as good as mine," she said.
Christine Cook, of Easton, owner of Mossaics, a landscaping company, who has designed and cared for the property since 1997, also wondered how the bear got in. She believed it either climbed a tree to go over the fence or found an opening somewhere on the property.
She also noted a large standalone bird feeder was bent at a 45-degree angle at its base and believed the bear had knocked it down in its search for food.
Animal Control Officer Allyson Halm said the bear fled up the tree when she and others approached it. She believed it would come down once it felt it safe.
"As soon as we got close he went straight up the tree which is normal," she said. "We're hoping he will find the open gate and keep moving on."
She said the town relied on the guidance of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). The department's call was to leave it alone, she said.
"We don't interfere unless it becomes a dangerous situation," she said.
While this is the first bear sighting in town this year, she said there were a number of them last year. Residents may have to get used to bears as they search for food. She also believed the smell of Memorial Day grilling may have also enticed the bear to come into town.
"This is going to become an annual occurrence," she said. "They are going to take up residence at some point."
It is about a quarter mile from the intersection of Elm Street and Park Street, home of Starbucks.