Three bears were rescued from a sewer grate in Simsbury Wednesday afternoon after being trapped underground overnight.
The bears, a mother and two cubs, were trapped in the Banks Road sewer for hours before being rescued by several officials Wednesday, according to Jason Hawley, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s bear program Environment of the state. .
Banks Road resident Scott Conrad said he initially learned about the bears when a neighbor told him around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The bears were there until they were rescued around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
It took a log, a ladder and a special bear cub call from Hawley to lure them out of the drain, he said.
Hawley said the bears were initially reported to DEEP Tuesday evening, but they thought the mother would know how to get out of the system since she was able to get in. noises, they approached and searched for the trio, he said.
Conrad described the noise as a mother’s desperate cry, an emotional and distressing sound.
Officials found bear tracks leading to where the system spills, but saw no entrance. They spent a couple of hours searching the sewer system from above for signs of the bears. They returned after neighbors found the bears again under the same storm drain.
They removed the storm drain, blocked off the rest of the sewer system with boards, put a ladder in the system and tried to get the bears to Hawley’s bear call, which he said he’s learned to be around the bears. Hawley described the noise as a “very specific little type of noise that puppies will make.”
“[Mothers] they have such a strong maternal instinct that they will respond even though she had her two cubs with her,” Hawley said.
The mother climbed halfway up the stairs initially before coming back down, he said. Hawley had some Public Works people carry a long log for them to climb on, so it would be a little more natural for them.
The bears were missing for a while before a DEEP technician went down into the sewer and found them with a flashlight. That’s something technicians will do sometimes when DEEP is doing its winter work, Hawley said.
“It looks like a dangerous thing, but we’re able to read their body language and see where they are,” Hawley said.
He said black bears are not aggressive animals and generally want to be left alone.
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Libby Lord, a local photographer, saw the rescue and said it was something she would never forget.
“After everyone had returned from their location, and quietly waiting and watching…mother’s head appeared!” sir he wrote in a social media post. “Then he came out, had a look around, and came back to encourage the cubs to come out too. The first one climbed up and out, and moved around a nearby tree, so the mother went to find cub number 2. He arrived, much to the relief of Mother Bear and all the onlookers!”
“We got them out of the storm drain before they could come back down, then we were able to cover it up and it was a happy ending,” Hawley said.
The mother was tagged but none of the bears were injured in the process, he said.
Conrad called it “a great team effort” by DEEP, Simsbury police, the state Environmental Conservation Police and the city.
Mike Mavredakis can be reached at email@example.com