Wildlife In Crisis: Tribute To “Bear 211”

It’s not often that an organization writes a tribute to an animal.

But “Bear 211” — the animal, named for its State of Connecticut tag, that lumbered through Westport for the past several weeks — touched many hearts.

“Bear 211” was struck and killed by a hit-and-run motorist yesterday, in Easton. Weston-based Wildlife in Crisis posted this tribute on social media:

He was known as “Bear 211” due to the unsightly plastic tags pierced through his beautiful ears. He had a Facebook page. He was beloved by residents of Westport, Weston and surrounding towns.

He swam in pools, he sat on porches, he lingered on lawns and he roamed. He weighed 120 pounds, a yearling bear. He touched the hearts of many during his short time on this earth.

Close encounter of the bear kind, near Weston Road. (Photo/Denny Galindo)

On July 26th, this majestic bear was critically injured after being hit by a car and local police officers ended his suffering. We are heartbroken at Wildlife in Crisis.

We’ve raised orphaned bear cubs and know first-hand just how endearing this species can be. We are proud of our community for their compassion for this bear.

There is much we can learn from Bear 211. As suburban sprawl has overtaken Fairfield County, we are now more than ever stewards of the wild animals that live amongst us. We can all make a difference for wildlife from bears to butterflies, by being good stewards.

Enlighten your neighbors. Leave mature trees standing. Don’t use pesticides, rodenticides or herbicides, and work towards banning them. Allow half your lawn to grow into a life giving meadow. Don’t trap wildlife, leave them be. Keep cats indoors and supervise your dogs.

The bear on Old Hill. (Photo/Stella Wong)

It’s really easy and so fulfilling to live in harmony with nature. We must teach our children to be tolerant and respectful of our ecosystem.

Incessant development killed this bear and so many other wild animals. Lack of foresight has caused the overdevelopment of our towns.

Traffic is out of control. There’s no time for bureaucracy, there is no time for procedures; the time is now to preserve what little is left of open space. All privately owned land will be lost to development unless it is permanently protected. The most meaningful thing we can do as a community to honor Bear 211’s memory is to actively preserve remaining open space.

Black bears now live amongst us. Or we live amongst them, depending on your point of view. The maturation of our forests in Connecticut have given rise to a growing bear population.

This bear roamed Westport in 2019. (Photo/Alec Shutze)

Unfortunately, these forests are now bisected by roads and endless suburban sprawl. Black bears are omnivores, with a preference for succulents, greens, roots, nuts, seeds and berries. They will prey on fish and occasionally newborn fawns in the spring, bringing natural balance to our ecosystem. They vary in color from white to brown to black.

Mating season is in May and June with delayed embryo implantation happening in the fall once female bears have sufficient fat reserves. They only breed every other year, and only if they are fit enough to raise young. One to five cubs are born in the mother’s winter den and remain with her for 18 months. 2 cubs are the norm.

These charismatic megafauna are at the center of folklore and fairy tales. In real life we need to admire them at a distance. A bear habituated to humans will eventually be killed. Black bears will almost always retreat from humans. If they are nervous they will sometimes bluff charge-pounce once, slam their front feet down, blow loudly, and sometimes smack their lips.

In 2013, Cablevision News 12 aired this shot of a black bear in Westport.

Blustery bears are not about to attack, they are simply showing their discomfort around humans before they retreat or tree. Keep your distance from bears and they will do the same. Don’t run from a bear, simply walk away. Bears are easily scared by clapping, yelling and a water hose if necessary. Just use common sense.

Keep bird feeders far from your house. Supervise your dogs! Keep garbage in bear proof containers or closed securely in your garage. A little ammonia in a garbage can will mask food odors.

Bears have an incredible sense of smell and are now bulking up for winter. They are not true hibernators, they will emerge from dens on warmer winter days, especially if they are on the thin side.

Let’s appreciate these magnificent creatures by respecting their space and keeping remaining trees standing, especially old growth trees that produce vital life giving mast. Live and let live.

PS: Much appreciated donations in Bear 211’s memory can be made on our website.

Donations will be put towards our bear program and the care of our thousands of patients hit by cars every year. Protecting habitat is the most important thing we can do for wildlife.

We urge people to make it abundantly clear to their elected officials, that open space preservation is a quality of life issue for people and wildlife. We need to preserve more open space pronto!

We have a Wildlife in Crisis Land Trust. Anyone who wishes to contribute towards the purchase of open space can specify that it go towards our land trust. Wild animals cannot live without proper habitat, especially large animals like bears.

Thank you for your compassion and support. Rest in Peace 211, we will never forget you!

17 responses to “Wildlife In Crisis: Tribute To “Bear 211”

  1. Shari Lovegrove

    I have tears in my eyes

  2. Julie Loparo

    Beautifully written. Thank you Wildlife in Crisis for this tribute and all you do for wildlife. Your hearts must break every day in regard to the tragedies that appear at your doorstep due to human’s inability to safely and compassionately share this planet.

  3. John F. Suggs

    Agh… So sad. In response to Bear 211’s unfortunate death, we need to once again rededicate ourselves and our Town to preserve and protect passive open space like Westports amazing 22 hilly acres at Barons South.

  4. Perfect timing that at 7 PM tonight at Westport’s Earthplace nature center at the outdoor amphitheater Felicia Ortner a bear expert will give a free talk on how to co-exist with bears. Bring your questions and concerns!💜

  5. joshua stein

    Very sad. Bear 211 demise was inevitable. I was betting he would be euthanized as he was becoming too comfortable around humans. Many people contributed to his demise by leaving out food, bird feeders, garbage, feeding him, taking pictures, and video, instead of following basics. It is amazing to see wildlife making a come back in our area after developers have decimated their habitat. What is also sad is how many people went nuts when the news broke, making assumptions about the person that hit the bear.

  6. Diane Silfen

    How very sad. My grandson Colin took a picture of him/her in a tree in a park in Trumbull while he was biking ..

  7. Michael Isaacs

    Somehow I think all this “the poor little Bear” talk would be a bit different had it encountered a small child and killed it, which was certainly a possibility seeing how it was comfortable in backyards. That bear should have been captured and put into a zoo or other environment where it would not be a danger since it was so used to humans.

    • Jens Eric Büttner

      Sure, so that people like you could safely stare at him. Living in a caged place in a non adequate habitat is no solution. Zoo’s shouldn’t even exist anymore, “poor little human”.

    • You are a fool, Mr. Isaacs, and I truly hope you own no animals…you don’t deserve one.

    • Chris Grimm

      Black bears have killed 25 people in North America in the last 20 years – half of those in Canada and Alaska.

      The utter ignorance of people like Michael Isaacs is something that is more of a threat to any of us than is a bear.

  8. Julie Loparo

    Actually, Michael Isascs, Wildlife in Crisis was in the process of making plans to house Bear 211 until a permanent sanctuary could be found.

  9. Diane Lynn DelBianco

    I’m sad. I feel bad the driver didn’t stop and call someone, leaving the poor bear to suffer for who knows how long. “Bear”well, 211

  10. Diane Lynn DelBianco

    I’m sad. “Bear”well, 211

  11. Gracine Bueti

    So sad. Bear 211 had such a brief life. I hope he didn’t suffer long. RIP little bear.

  12. Wildlife in Crisis deserves our gratitude and our donations…we are so lucky to have them “around the corner.”

  13. Tracy Flood

    We should all make a donation to this great organization!!!!

  14. Pegeen Gaherin

    Thank you beautiful post.

    Having grown up in Westport 1964 -2003,
    I have seen it’s population diluted.

    These outsiders move to the country from a City and want to wipe out the wildlife….

    And have no interest in learning to live in harmony with them.

    Pegeen Gaherin
    Staples 72