Bear attack

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On April 26, our 78-pound family dog was viciously attacked by a bear that entered our yard over a 5-foot chain-link fence. This happened in broad daylight (11 a.m.). We were able to rush him to the vet, where he underwent emergency surgery. He was both clawed and bitten and his survival was in doubt; there were large pieces of skin, muscle and fat falling off of him as we got him into our car. Since the attack, he has been hospitalized with only a few respite days at home, and required multiple surgeries, with more to follow. We think he is going to make it but he is looking at even more surgeries and a long recovery.

Surely something needs to be done about the bear population in Granby. Since the attack, I have talked with our animal control officer here in Granby (who is terrific) and with DEEP, and I have educated myself on these issues. The bear population is growing by 7 to 10 percent per year, perhaps more. These animals have no natural predators and they have no fear in approaching houses, people and pets. My husband and I cannot help thinking that if this had been a small child how much more horrible it would be for the entire community. And preventable.

I am going to take responsibility for this. I did not always accompany him outside in our fenced yard (although I had the slider door open). Also, I know now that I contributed to this situation because I did have birdfeeders out in the winter, had only taken them down a couple weeks before the attack.

I did not at the time understand the magnitude of the problem or have a clear understanding that these bears are opportunistic omnivores. They WILL attack farm animals and pets, and they present a danger to humans as well. And a 5-foot chain link fence may make you feel safe but does not in fact protect your family, property and pets.

Please consider joining me in support of an ordinance regarding feeding of all wild animals in Granby. This could be easily done by modeling it on the Simsbury ordinance passed last July. I did not know, but learned from the Simsbury ordinance, that having bird feeders out from December 1 through March 31 is less risky and permitted. Also, that there are certain types of birdseed like Nyjer and thistle that are not attractive to bears and can be used year-round.

A “no feeding” ordinance will not entirely solve the problem of the bear population, but it is a step we can take toward public safety in Granby and also help educate people about the dangers that DO exist in bear-people interactions.

Valerie Eastwood