Conservation Wildlife Management

Watch: Connecticut Black Bears Stroll Through Unconcerned Crowds, Steal Cupcakes

Both encounters happened in Avon, Connecticut, where a woman was bitten last month. Locals still insist “there’s nothing to worry about” and “they’re afraid of us”
Katie Hill Avatar
connecticut bear runs through parade

The bear lumbered past dogs, kids, and even an ice cream truck. Steve Phillips / Facebook

The black bear saga continues in Avon, Connecticut, where one bear dodged pedestrians while running through the Memorial Day parade route on May 29. This occurred just two days after a bear stole 60 cupcakes from a town bakery. Despite the documented problems that occur when bears become habituated to humans, some Avon residents seem charmed by both incidents rather than concerned.

One video posted to Facebook shows a large, ear-tagged black bear loping through crowds seated along Route 44 in Avon on May 29. It was likely recorded before or after the Memorial Day parade. People shout “Bear!” as it runs along the sidewalk and through the landscaping of various storefronts and restaurants. Some parents walk their kids into the busy street to avoid the bear, while others just turn around and watch, seemingly unfazed. The bear doesn’t make any aggressive moves toward the onlookers and is still running up the street when the video ends.

“There’s nothing to be scared of, he’s walking away,” a parade viewer says from behind the camera. “He’s afraid of us,” another voice says. Both sound like parents assuring their children that the bear is not a threat.

But those comments seem more like wishful thinking rather than an accurate assessment of the situation. Some bears in Connecticut—which has a soaring and still unhunted black bear population—are largely unafraid of humans. As black bears across the state become more conditioned to human food, thanks in part to Connecticut’s lack of state laws on garbage control and feeding wildlife, they’re becoming bolder.

“Conflicts with humans will continue to increase,” Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection writes on its website. (DEEP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.) “Food-conditioned bears pose a greater risk to public safety and often cause more property damage to houses, cars, pets, and livestock.”

This pretty well describes the black bear that strolled into the garage of an Avon bakery on May 27 in search of cupcakes.

The bear walked into an open garage bay where employees were preparing for a delivery. (It is unclear if this is the same bear that would eventually run through the parade route, although both are large and have white collars.) Footage posted on Facebook shows the bear dragging a tray with 60 cupcakes into the parking lot and chowing down. But according to the video’s caption, the cupcake-stealing bear is perfectly friendly, afraid of humans, and absolutely adorable. 

“A few facts: No bears will be harmed. They have not hurt anyone and will be totally ok. No need to worry,” Taste by Spellbound Bakery’s Facebook post reads. “They are more scared of us than us of them. We all have had a good laugh about it at this point and think the bears are cute.”

The odds that the bear will “be totally ok” are slim. Food-conditioned and habituated bears are much more likely to be euthanized than their wilder counterparts. (There’s even a popular turn-of-phrase that supports this fact: a fed bear is a dead bear.) This is exactly what happened in April, when officials euthanized a black bear after it bit a woman.

Meanwhile, the Avon Police Department’s black bear protocol requires euthanasia for all bears that enter dwellings. APD doesn’t classify a garage as a dwelling, but this black bear could just as easily be euthanized for a similar offense while looking for next week’s meal.

Watch: Giant Connecticut Black Bear Breaks into a Car, Won’t Exit the Vehicle

Avon led the state in bear sightings in 2021 and had one of the highest concentrations of sightings, conflicts, and home entries in 2022. As of March 2023, no town ordinance is in place prohibiting the intentional feeding of black bears.