Weston-based Wildlife in Crisis is raising funds to honor Bear 211, a black bear who was humanely euthanized after being severely injured by a hit-and-run driver in Easton on Monday.

Bear 211, a young male, was beloved and often spotted slumbering in hammocks and taking dips in backyard swimming pools in Easton and other Fairfield County towns. He earned his name by the tags the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection attached to his ears.

Bear 211’s death broke many hearts throughout Fairfield County. It also prompted Wildlife in Crisis to post the tribute below to Bear 211 on its Facebook page. In the post, the volunteer-run, non-profit is seeking donations to continue its bear program and the care of thousands of patients hit by cars every year. Donations in Bear 211’s memory can be made on their website: www.wildlifeincrisis.org.

A tribute to a much loved bear: 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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

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!

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