Jake the golden retreiver (in red circle) sprints after the black bear. Courtesy Greg Grant via WTNH-News
A family in Sherman, Connecticut, has their dog to thank for keeping their toddler safe from a black bear. Surveillance footage of the Grant family’s backyard shows their golden retriever chasing the bear away from their four-year-old son and running it off the property. The father, Greg Grant, shared the video footage with WTNH-News in New Haven.
Greg told reporters that his son Gavin had been walking in their yard when the boy spotted the black bear, got scared, and ran away. He said he can’t be sure that the nearby bear would have chased Gavin. But Jake, their eight-year-old golden retriever, wasn’t about to wait and find out.
The short video clip shows Gavin running away from the bear just seconds before the bear books it across the yard with Jake hot on its tail. Jake keeps after the bear and easily catches up with it, chasing the interloper off the property and into the nearby woods.
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection told WTNH-News officials would be looking into the encounter, but the agency has not released any more information about the incident. As for Jake, he received the royal guard dog treatment.
“He got quite a few treats; he got some ice cream. He got a bath that night,” Grant said. “He got the whole nine yards.”
Although no humans or animals were injured, the encounter is yet another example of the increasing friction between humans and black bears in Connecticut. The state is one of only two in the Northeast that doesn’t allow black bear hunting, even though it’s home to a burgeoning population of roughly 1,200 bears. Human-bear conflicts have risen as a result, and DEEP recorded a record high number of conflicts (67 of them) in 2022. A report from the same year shows that black bears were spotted in 158 of the state’s 169 cities. These numbers weren’t enough for the state to support a regulated black bear hunt, however, and politicians nixed a proposed hunting season in March 2023.
A little over a month after that decision, an elderly woman was bitten by a black bear while walking her dog in Avon. And in May, a series of two unrelated incidents took place in the same town, with one bear crashing a parade and the other stealing a pile of cupcakes from a local bakery.
Aside from euthanizing the most problematic bears, which is what happened to the one that bit the woman in April, the DEEP has been left with few options when it comes to managing its growing black bear population. The agency seldom relocates them because Connecticut is a densely populated state with a limited amount of suitable habitat, and no other state wants Connecticut’s bears.
New legislation that Gov. Ned Lamont signed in June further defines the lethal measures the state’s residents are allowed to take in defending themselves and their property from bears. It clarifies that a person can legally kill a black bear that is inflicting bodily harm on a human, injuring a pet, or entering an occupied building. The new law also prohibits the intentional feeding of bears and establishes a system for lethal take permits, which allow landowners and other qualified persons to kill nuisance bears under certain circumstances.