THOMASTON, Conn. (WTNH) — DEEP is reminding the public of bear safety after a man in Thomaston shot and killed one after it seemingly became a threat to his dog.

DEEP Environmental Conservation Police responded to a call involving a bear in Thomaston early Tuesday evening.

DEEP reports, William O’Connor, 26, of Thomaston had let his dog out in the yard. While outside, the dog ran at a female black bear and her cubs who were near the property line.

The bear “treed” her cubs (had them climb a tree to safety while she fended off a threat) and stood her ground at the base of the tree, making huffing noises toward the dog.

O’Connor, reportedly fearing for his dog’s safety, retrieved a .22 long rifle and shot in the direction of the bear with the intent to scare it. But, the shot struck the bear, which moved about 30 yards into the neighbor’s driveway, collapsed, and eventually died.

O’Connor’s dog was not hurt.

O’Connor is charged with illegal taking of a black bear and issued a summons. The potential penalty is a $500 fine, 30 days in jail (or both), and a suspension of a hunting license (if he has one).

En Con officers report, “the cubs appeared healthy enough to survive on their own. The [mother] bear was taken to Sessions Woods for necropsy.”

DEEP fall bear safety reminders:

  • Fall is when bears are out and increasing food intake for food intake to add fat reserves needed for winter hibernation.
  • Bears should never be fed intentionally or otherwise.
  • Keep garbage in secure, airtight containers inside a garage, a shed, or a storage area.
  • Adding ammonia to cans and bags will reduce odors that attract bears. Periodically clean garbage cans with ammonia to reduce residual odors.
  • Garbage for pickup should be brought out in the morning, not left out the night before.
  • Supervise dogs at all times when outside and keep them on a short leash when walking and hiking. A roaming dog might be perceived as a threat to a bear or its cubs.

“If you encounter a bear while in your yard or hiking, make your presence known by yelling or making other loud noises. Never attempt to get closer to a bear. If a bear does not retreat, slowly leave the area. If in your yard, go into your house, garage, or other structure. If the bear persistently approaches, go on the offensive—shout, wave your arms, and throw sticks or rocks,” DEEP suggests. 

For more information on bear best practices:—2020/DEEP-Encourages-Continued-Bear-Awareness-Heading-into-Fall