Hungry bear breaks into local home

By Rose Cunningham
Maybe it’s a good idea to lock your doors, even when you live in the country. Grand Gorge resident Alexander D’Assy said he and his family recently had an uninvited and unwelcome house guest; a black bear, with a discriminating palate, weighing an estimated 250 pounds.

According to D’Assy, he and his wife, Noeme, who split time between Jump Brook Road in Grand Gorge and New York City, left the house for the day to swim, leaving an Italian sausage and chicken out on the kitchen counter marinating for dinner that night.

“We came home and the chicken and sausage were missing. We didn’t see a bear but we assumed. It must have been very gentle because he didn’t leave a mess.” Later that evening, the bear came back for dessert.

“We were all here, there were about six of us then, friends from New York were also up visiting. It was exciting; we watched as the bear walked about the back of the house. Finally, he took the trash bag right out of the garbage can and left with it,” D’Assy laughed.

The bear made one more visit that evening and the Grand Gorge resident and friends watched the guest of honor “amazed and a little excited.”

The following afternoon, the group was enjoying a picnic in the back yard when the black bear decided perhaps he wanted some barbecue.

“We were eating outside and he climbed an apple tree about 15 feet away. He just sat up there eating apples and watched us,” D’Assy said.

The Jump Brook resident contacted Town of Roxbury Constable Steve Williamson and asked for advice as to what to do.

“This was my first bear sighting and it wasn’t threatening, but I was concerned for my child,” he said. “He basically said to just call if the bear returned again.”

The 40-year-old, who was born in France and imports furniture, said he has been visiting the Catskills for the last 10 years.

“I love it here because it is secluded and we see many animals like deer and rabbits. But I never thought of the possibility that a black bear would continually show up unexpectedly in the back yard. I think he will be back.”

Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Wildlife Biologist Larry Bifaro, who works out of the Stamford Region 4 Office, said there have been at least three different calls reporting bears on Jump Brook Road recently and he said it is unlikely it is just one bear.

“We had a couple of cases of property damage and one recently entered an uninhabited building. This concerns me most that a bear would be aggressive enough in search of food to enter a building.”

He said the Roxbury area, in particular, has a high bear population and each year a “handful of hunters” harvest a bear.

Bifaro also offered advice as to what to do and what not to do when a resident sees a bear.
“Generally, they will be scared off easily. Banging on pots and pans generally works, but if not, that could mean they are simply used to that tactic. Just make sure to give it space and to keep bird feeders and garbage, or anything else that may attract a bear out of the back yard,” he said.
Editor’s note: Rose Cunningham is a freelance writer who lives in Stamford.