Tag Archives: Wildlife in Crisis

Roundup: Yankee Doodle Fair, Affordable Housing, Animal Blessings …

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The Yankee Doodle Fair is back!

After missing 2020 because of COVID, the annual Westport Woman’s Club carnival has shifted from its traditional June date to September.

What hasn’t changed are the site — the Imperial Avenue parking lot next and adjacent WWC — and the attractions: rides, games, raffles, food, sand art and more.

Or the cause: raising funds for philanthropy.

The Yankee Doodle Fair runs today (Friday, 6 to 10 p.m.), tomorrow (Saturday, 1 to 10 p.m.) and Sunday (1 to 5 p.m.).

Click below for a special video, created last year by Doug Tirola’s 4th Row Films, highlighting the 2019 event.

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Affordable housing — what it means, where to put it, how it fits in to the suburban and statewide landscape — is a controversial topic.

Next Tuesday (September 28, 6:30 p.m., Zoom), State Senator Will Haskell and State Representative Stephanie Thomas host a bipartisan panel: “Affordable Housing in Our Community.”

Panelists include Westport Planning & Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin, and her Wilton counterpart Rick Tomasetti. The moderator is Heather Borden Herve, editor of “Good Morning Wilton.” Click here to register.

Among Westport’s affordable housing options: Sasco Creek Village.

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Wednesday’s Roundup included details of the upcoming Blessing of the Animals, at Saugatuck Congregational Church.

Looks like Westport’s animals will be twice blessed.

On the same date (Sunday, October 3, 9:30 a.m.), Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church will offer its own courtyard Blessing of the Animals. It’s part of the annual Feast of St. Francis.

All animals — and humans — are welcome.

Blessing of the Animals, at Christ & Holy Trinity Church.

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It’s almost October. Almost time to say goodbye to your garden, for the year.

How do you do it? On October 18 (7 p.m.), Wakeman Town Farms hosts “Putting Your Garden to Bed: The Pollinator Friendly Way.

Nathalie Fonteyne joins WTF master gardeners and coaches Alice Ely and Ryan Brunelle to share tips on what to cut down and what to leave, how to recycle and compost the last greens as the garden prepares for its long winter nap, and what vegetables you still have time to plant to ensure a healthy, beautiful garden next spring.

Click here to register.

Back to the garden.

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Fairfield County has a lively music scene.

But there’s no band livelier than Band Central. The “house band” for CLASP Homes — the Westport-based nonprofit serving adults with autism and other developmental disabilities — headlines the organization’s first in-person, indoor event in nearly 2 years.

On October 15 (6:30 p.m., Fairfield Theater Company), they’ll play songs from Motown, and soul greats like Aretha Franklin, the Commodores, Earth Wind & Fire and more. Special guests will join in.

$40 tickets to the benefit include a pre-party, and an art show with work by CLASP residents. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

Two members of Band Central in action.

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Speaking of music: Scott Barr loves venues like FTC, the Levitt Pavilion and Capitol Theater, plus bars and other spaces to see local (and national) acts. He particularly enjoys seeing bands in small, intimate spaces, then watching as they achieve great success.

Every so often you stumble upon an entertainment event or a scene that must be witnessed and it usually happens where you least expect it.

He’s done it with the Spin Doctors, Blues Traveler, Joan Osborne and Phish. More recent examples include The Record Company playing at Roton Middle School, and the Revivalists and Black Pumas playing at StageOne.

Now, Scott says, a music scene is happening in Westport “right under our noses.”

Every Tuesday night at 8, a band called Residual Groove (aka KRIS or JEDD ) plays at Dunville’s. This week, members of Goose played with them.

“They have special guests all the time, and their playlist is for all ages,” Scott reports. “If anyone is looking for a fresh new scene and great music, check it out.”

He gives a special shoutout to Dunville’s owner Steve Carpentieri, for making it all happen.

Residual Groove (with special guest Peter Anspach from Goose, center) at Dunville’s.

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Jayne Mauborgne was moved by yesterday’s Roundup story about the rescue of 11 turtle hatchlings. A wildlife conservationist came from Madison to help.

She wants readers to know about Wildlife in Crisis.

“We are lucky to have this wildlife rehabilitator right in Weston,” Jayne says. They are great, dedicated people. Over the years I have brought them birds, squirrels, opossum, and all manner of forest creatures.”

Call 203-544-9913 (ask for Darrah or Peter), or email wildlifeincrisis@snet.net.

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Lifelong Westporter John Stahursky died Tuesday at Fairfield County House in Stamford. He was 86 years old.

John graduated from Staples High School in 1953, and retired as a mechanic from Slez Garage in Westport. He loved gardening and farming, and volunteered for many years maintaining the lawns and flower gardens at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Fairfield. John grew from seed, then donated, countless plants to the parish for sale at their annual picnic.

He was honored with the St. Augustine Medal, from the Diocese of Bridgeport.

John enjoyed restoring Model A Fords, which were driven in Westport’s Memorial Day parades.

His family remembers him as “a hard working man, always ready with a smile and happy to help others in need.”

Survivors include his siblings Bernard Stahursky of Westport, Wanda Ornousky of Norwalk and Bertha Matis of Westport, and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews.

John was predeceased by sisters Jean Kral, Helen Rutski and Sophie E. Stahursky, and brothers, Joe, Frank and Steve Stahursky.

A funeral will be held Monday (September 27, 9:15 a.m. from the Dougiello Fairfield Funeral Home, and 10 a.m. in St. Anthony of Padua Church with a Mass of Christian Burial. Interment will be in Assumption Cemetery in Westport. Friends may call Sunday (noon to 3 p.m).

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in John’s memory to St. Anthony Parish, 149 South Pine Creek Road, Fairfield, CT 06824 or Fairfield County House, 1 Den Road, Stamford, CT 06902.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” scene is familiar, yet fresh:

(Photo/Wendy Levy)

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And finally … singer Sarah Dash died Monday. She was 76.

According to the New York Times, she “brought her church-rooted soprano and high harmonies to Labelle, which began as a 1960s girl group before reinventing itself as a socially aware, Afro-futuristic rock and funk powerhouse, costumed in glittery sci-fi outfits and singing about revolution as well as earthy romance.”

Click here for her full obituary.

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!

Roundup: Staples Soccer, Library, Jim Naughton, Jose Feliciano, More


In a first for Staples High School sports — and perhaps for any team anywhere in the country — the boys soccer team broadcast last night’s match at Norwalk on a drive-in movie screen.

With a limited number of spectators allowed due to COVID at most schools — and Norwalk banning even parents — the Wreckers have livestreamed all their games this year.

GKess Films of Cheshire provide high-def quality video. WWPT-FM students provide play-by-play; alumni athletes, former coaches and other soccer aficionados add color commentary.

Cars filled with parents, siblings, younger players and random soccer fans headed to the Remarkable Theater Imperial Avenue parking lot for tailgating, and the game. They honked their horns and flashed their lights when Haydn Siroka and Alan Fiore scored early goals, and when Sebi Montoulieu saved a penalty kick.

Staples won 2-1 — their 3rd consecutive victory — and perhaps a new tradition was born.

A scene from the big screen at the Remarkable Theater. (Photo/Neil Brickley)


Good news from the Westport Library!

Starting Monday, November 9, they’ll expand hours, institute cart-side pick-up, and will offer access to the media studios, Maker Space and Children’s Department (by appointment).

New hours are Monday through Friday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.). The Library will remain closed on Sunday.

Patrons can browse for materials in the Library, place them on hold remotely, or do so by calling 203-291-4807. Items placed on hold can be picked up in the tent outside the building at any time during operating hours. This replaces the current curbside pick-up arrangement.

Delivery services will continue for residents who are homebound or in a high-risk category that prevents them from visiting the Library.

The Library is also adding printing services to its 3 Express computers. and will reintroduce loans from in-state Libraries.

Shopping in the Library store will continue in person or virtually by appointment. Click here to schedule.

The Library will continue to limit the number of people in the building to 100 at any time.


Tony Award-winning actor and noted director James Naughton is also a noted animal advocate. He writes:

Having lived in Weston for 43 years, and been raised in Connecticut, I count myself very lucky to have shared this wonderful, woodsy environment with nature’s creatures.

Just in the last 6 months while sequestered, we were entertained daily by a couple of foxes raising their 5 little kits in our yard, then a family of groundhogs and a raccoon family. Owls hoot in the woods , hawks circle overhead, and we watch out for fawns crossing the roads.

When some of these animals aren’t so lucky — hey are orphaned or encounter an automobile they (and we) are lucky to have a place to take them right here.

Dara and Peter Reid created Wildlife in Crisis, and have been its stewards for over 30 years.

Normally, they take in 5,000 animals a year.  This year they’ve taken in an unusually large  number of creatures–and they need our help.

They’re a 501C3, and depend on charitable contributions. Click here, and watch a 10-minute video of them releasing back into the wild some of the animals they’ve raised or  rehabilitated.

It’s inspiring, and a delight to show to your children and grandchildren. Then please: Make a donation.

Jim Naughton with a baby possum.


Speaking of famous Weston residents: This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time. The other day, singer-songwriter Jose Feliciano popped into a Norwalk TV studio to talk with Telemundo about the jazzy, jangly classic.

Click here to see. The interview is in Spanish. But if you don’t speak it: no hay problema.

The song — and Jose’s exubertant personality — are universal.


Want $10,000?

Saturday (October 31) is the deadline to apply for a Westport Young Woman’s League Super Grant.

They’re awarded to local organizations working in areas like food insecurity, education, and health and wellness.

Despite the impact of COVID on fundraising, the WYWL continues to support our community. For a grant application, click here. To learn more, click here.


Halloween is not yet here.

But Christmas is, at Anthropologie downtown.

Can spring be far behind?

(Photo/Amy Schneider)


And finally … thanks to Jose Feliciano and Anthropologie, “06880” officially kicks off the holiday season:

COVID Roundup: Main Street Parking; Summer School, Senior Center Classes Online; More


Town officials report that in Phase 1 of reopening, over 50% of retail establishments are open. In addition, more than 20 restaurants offer outdoor dining. NOTE: Hair salons and barber shops are open by appointment only; walk-ins are not allowed.

Many offices are open too (with a strong emphasis on working from home if possible).

Some businesses and offices have decided it is not yet time to reopen. Call ahead, to determine if a certain establishment or office is operating.

Second Selectwoman Jen Tooker praises non-profit Social Venture Partners, which in a joint venture with the town provided approximately 30 local businesses with non-cost advisory services on topics like financial analysis, marketing and human resources.

In other business news, parking spaces will be cordoned off for at least 30 days on Main Street, from the Post Road to Elm Street, to provide increased pedestrian access.

Parking spaces on Main Street will be cordoned off, to provide more room for pedestrians during social distancing restrictions. (Photos/Chip Stephens)


The Westport Police Department issued this statement, about protests following the death of George Floyd:

“Over the last several days, the town of Westport has been the site of demonstrations in response to recent tragic events in our country. The men and women of this department are sincerely grateful that to date these have been peaceful and constructive gatherings. To the public we serve, we offer a sincere thank you for your continued engagement in your community and your commitment to making our world a better place for us all.  In that goal, we have and will always continue to proudly stand with you.

“Sadly, this has not been the case throughout this country, where violent acts and destruction instead has become on all too common sight in many of our neighborhoods.  The Westport Police Department will always support, and work diligently to protect, the First Amendment rights of our citizens and visitors alike. As we anticipate additional future demonstrations to happen here in and our neighboring communities, we ask that you please do your part to help us ensure the safety and voice of all those in attendance.  There is no greater instrument of peace than a continued dialogue, do not let your message be lost in violence.”


After examining detailed regulations for summer camps and summer school programs, the Westport Public Schools has decided it is untenable to offer in-person programs this year.

“We are very disappointed to be in this position, and understand how disappointed some parents and students might be as well,” says interim superintendent of schools Dr. David Abbey. “However, we are committed to doing our best to offer excellent alternative programming through a distance learning format.”

Continuing Education will provide many programs online, including all  high school courses being offered for credit. Click here for details.


Westport Library director Bill Harmer says:

“The senseless murder of George Floyd once again highlights the racial injustices that continue to plague us in cities and towns across the nation.

“The core mission of the public library is to create a nation of informed and active citizens. Like a compass, we point the way toward a better society that is founded in knowledge and demonstrates respect for diverse peoples and views. By fulfilling this responsibility, we provide a fundamental opportunity for each of us to meaningfully contribute to the success of our democracy.

“While much of our political discourse is seemingly fractious, the public library stands firm as a beacon to inspire citizens to seek common ground in order to help meet the challenges of our time. In this way, libraries function as an essential equalizer in our society.

“In these unprecedented times, we are asking that you join us in fortifying our mission by standing together to shape and determine who we are and what we will become. By supporting and promoting inclusion and equity, we will be playing an active role in creating a better future for all Americans.

“Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay strong.


The Senior Center’s 49 summer classes — including art, exercise and language, along with discussion and support groups — will all be offered via Zoom. For a list of classes, click here; then scroll down.

Westport residents age 60 and older can begin registering this Monday (June 8), starting at 8:30 a.m. You can call 203-341-5099, or mail in a registration form (available here; scroll to the end) with payment to WCSA, 21 Imperial Avenue, Westport.

Out-of-town residents 60 and older can begin registering on Monday, June 15.

Questions? Call 203-341-5099.

(Photo/Molly Alger)


Wildlife has no idea there’s a pandemic. Injured and orphaned animals still need help.

Peter Reid — who is both Westport’s assistant animal control officer and Wildlife in Crisis director —  yesterday rescued 3 orphaned fawns.

Their mother was killed on the Post Road, near Fire Department headquarters.  All 3 are now being cared for by Wildlife in Crisis staff. They will be rehabilitated and released at the appropriate age.

According to Westport Animal Shelter Advocates, it costs $800 to $1,000 to care for each fawn. Click here to help.

Peter Reid and injured fawn.


And finally … Essie Jenkins, with”The 1919 Influenza Blues”:

Blessing Of The Animals This Sunday At Saugatuck Church

Everyone is welcome inside Saugatuck Congregational Church.

Pets and other animals — not so much.

But this Sunday (April 28, noon to 2 p.m.), every living thing will be welcome at the sweeping front lawn, on the Post Road just a dogleg from Myrtle Avenue.

Westport Animal Shelter Advocates joins the church in co-hosting a Blessing of the Animals.

The Great Lawn of Saugatuck Congregational Church is well suited to a Blessing of the Animals.

All are welcome to bring a pet leashed, or safely contained (recommended for pythons). You can also bring a photo, for an individual prayer of blessing (probably even better for that python).

Rev. Alison Buttrick Patton will lead the service. She’ll include all wildlife in her prayers.

She’ll give special blessing to Westport’s ospreys, for their continued protection and a successful nesting season. A banner will feature photos of the raptors, all originally posted on “06880.”

Representatives from Wildlife in Crisis will be there too. They’ll answer questions about local wildlife, and discuss their rehabilitative and release efforts.

Also on site: Susie Collins of Sitting Pretty Dog Training.

Our pets and wildlife are true blessings.

On Sunday, Rev. Patton is honored to bless them.

(For more information, call 203-557-0361 or email wasa1@optonline.net. The rain date is Sunday, May 5.)

A dog waits to be blessed.

Lili The Heron Flies Free

Lili Bonora was a graceful, generous woman.

A native of Monte Carlo, an accomplished cloisonné artist and concert pianist, a gifted cook and floral arranager, she was beloved in Westport. For 28 years Lili’s Fine Food and Catering served coffee, croissants and conversation to railroad passengers on the eastbound side of the station.

Lili died in October of 2011. She left behind countless friends and admirers.

Today, Lili lives again — in the form of a yellow tufted heron.

Heron 2

Lili the heron.

Over a year ago, the graceful bird had fallen out of her nest. She was attacked by crows.

The hatchling was found, and brought to Weston’s Wildlife in Crisis. There she was  lovingly nursed back to health — supported by generous donations that had been made in Lili Bonora’s honor.

On April 16 — around what would have been Lili’s 75th birthday — Lili the heron was set free in the salt marshes of Burying Hill Beach.

Lili stood in shock. She had never been outside. All day — and on into the night — she took stock of her new surroundings. Volunteers from Wildlife in Crisis monitored her, as she made her transition.

Lili, adapting to her new surroundings. (Photos/Sarah Gross)

Lili, adapting to her new surroundings. (Photos/Sarah Gross)

The next morning, Lili was safe in a tree. By Easter Sunday she was thriving.

The good folks at Wildlife in Crisis say the hardest part is not saving animals. It’s giving them back their freedom — letting them go.

Thanks to them, Westport now has 2 wonderful Lilis to remember.

(Hat tip to Sarah Gross, for the beautiful photos and wonderful story.)