Connecticut: SW region’s forests regrow & now towns “have” to kill recovering wildlife

In southwestern Connecticut, the populations of deer, turkeys, foxes
and other species — all but wiped out at the end of the 19th century
by farming and unregulated hunting — have been on the rebound in
recent decades, spurred by efforts to preserve native habitats. But
the return of wildlife is creating a challenge for local residents and
animal-control specialists as these animals — including black bears
and moose attracted by the rebirth of forests and state parklands —
wander with increasing frequency into this area from rural portions of
the northern part of the state.

Bears were spotted several times in
Monroe, Easton and Newtown last year. Moose have passed through
several towns. “At end of the 19th century, [wildlife] was at its
worst because of the many farms and unregulated hunting,” said Dale
May, director of the state Department of Environmental Protection’s
Wildlife Division. “Conservation measures put in place in the early
20th century, as advocated by sportsmen, included protecting land and
species and adopting hunting rules.” While farms have steadily
declined over several decades, forests have grown back on former
grazing land and large tracts — such as the watershed land in Easton
— have been preserved for open space.

The improved environment
allowed some animals to make a comeback on their own, while others
needed support from wildlife experts like May.these wildlife
encounters is Ed Risko, 51, Monroe’s animal control officer for 30
years. In recent weeks, Risko has responded to black bear sightings in
the eastern and western parts of town, where bears wandered through
woods and housing developments looking for food in preparation for the
winter. “We have more wildlife encounters not just because the animals
are increasing, but also because the human population is rising,”
Risko said. The state recorded 2,700 black bear sightings last year,
indicating there are about 400 bears, concentrated mainly in northern
towns, according to DEP wildlife biologist Paul Rego. “The bears were
wiped out in Connecticut because of deforestation, but they’ve been
coming in from Massachusetts and Vermont since the 1980s because their
habitat is returning,” Rego said. “They prefer forests. Their
migration is a slow, not sudden, process.”

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