Bobcat Sightings In CT Are On The Rise: Should You Be Worried? Your gut instinct may be to do everything possible

CONNECTICUT — The bobcat population is not only on the rise in the state, but sightings of the wily predator have been made in every municipality.

That’s not a bad thing, according to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. And considering the species was nearly completely wiped out here in 1972 before legal protections were enacted, it borders on being a wildlife miracle.

One reason for an uptick in sightings is the downtick in people leaving their homes, according to Melissa Ruszczyk, a technician with DEEP. Residents are seeing more bobcats in their yards because we’ve been spending more time at home gazing out windows during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Some people might think might find it hard to believe that they’re actually existing in some of these really urban areas, like Hartford Bridgeport, Danbury, Waterbury, but they are there!” she said.

A popular misconception is that the cats “come out” in the winter. In fact, bobcats are active year-round. They’re just more noticeable in the winter because there is less foliage.

For the past couple of decades, DEEP has devoted resources to get a handle on what bobcats eat while on the prowl in Connecticut. Researchers accomplish this by examining the contents in the stomachs of those cats who turn up as roadkill

“They’re eating a lot of squirrels,” Ruszczyk said. “They really like squirrels, rabbits, woodchucks and birds.”

The cats have it in them to hunt down and kill deer, but it’s less work for them to scavenge on deer roadkill. And in Connecticut, that’s one never ending buffet.

Your gut instinct may be to do everything possible to keep bobcats away from your home, but Ruszczyk suggests you may want to reevaluate that stance.

“Bobcats that live in more suburban or residential areas are really great for the ecosystem,” she said. “These animals are eating a lot of what people would consider pests. They’re doing a great job at keeping those smaller species in check.”

If, however, your idea of a pest is more in line with a 20-pound fanged feline prowling the perimeter of your gazebo, and less the chipmunk it’s chowing down on, Ruszczyk has some advice.

Rid your yard to of anything that the cat might deem attractive to the animals it hunts, such as bird feeders. If you have a concentration of the food that the prey species enjoy, you will attract those species’ predators, as well.

Suburban Connecticut’s famously manicured lawns give the cats an even greater advantage over their prey, Ruszczyk said, and present an irresistible killing field.

“A bobcat may sit in someone’s backwoods and just kind of watch,” she told Patch. If they see a squirrel in the yard, they may run out, grab the squirrel, and return to the woods.”

She recommends homeowners close off the areas beneath porches and yard sheds where varmints can feel comfortable, as bobcats interpret varmints feeling comfortable as a dinner bell.

If you’re on your way back from the gazebo and come face to waist with one of the big tabbies, Ruszczyk recommends you just make some noise (which would likely be your first instinct anyway).

“Most of these wild animals, even ones that live near people, they want nothing to do with people.”

Usually wildlife, because of their incredible senses if smell and hearing, will know you’re around before you know they are, according to Ruszczyk, “and that makes them go the other way before you know they’re ever even there.”

After you catch your breath, be sure to report the bobcat sighting to DEEP. Be prepared to have handy the date and specific location of the sighting, number of bobcats observed, and whether there were visible ear tags or collars on the animal.

The Bobcat Project

Ruszczyk is heavily involved in “The Bobcat Project,” a 3-year DEEP study intended to unravel a few of the Connecticut feline tribe’s many mysteries. Wildlife techs capture, collar and release roughly 50 of the beasts each year. The collars are programmed to drop off the cats, and when retrieved, spill information on where the animals roamed and when.

The home ranges of bobcats vary depending upon their areas, and wildlife biologists really don’t have a handle of what that is in Connecticut.

“We want to know that we have a healthy population, what they need in terms of space,” Ruszczyk said. The data will help urban and suburban planners understand where and how to build out their people spaces.

This season the project will debut a higher-tech collar, one that will recognize other collars as they come within proximity of each other.

“We’re going to be able to see how much time these bobcats spend near each other” Ruszczyk said. Bobcats are known to be solitary animals, but what does that really mean in suburban Connecticut? We’ll know next year. Trapping for the final season begins this fall.

The first two seasons were statewide, but for this final go-round DEEP made the decision to focus on gathering suburban data, and is just focusing on the Farmington Valley area and a couple of the surrounding towns.


Five Guys, Several New Business Coming To North Haven: Freda along with a new Starbucks with a drive-thru

NORTH HAVEN, CT — The recent grand opening of the iconic Ferraro’s Market was just the beginning of new businesses coming to North Haven, according to First Selectman Michael Freda.

Freda recently announced that a new Five Guys restaurant will be built on Washington Avenue along with a Starbucks featuring a drive-thru and an O’Reilly’s Auto Parts Store.

The new Five Guys, famous for its burgers and fries, will be the restaurant chain’s 16th location in Connecticut.

Freda told Patch that Five Guys will be located in the empty plaza just south of GSB (Guilford Savings Bank) and directly across from McDonald’s on Washington Avenue. A new Starbucks with a drive-thru will be built in the same plaza.

The current Starbucks on Washington Avenue will likely close. Freda said it really needed a drive-thru, but it wasn’t possible at the current location, which is in the same plaza as Liberty Bank.

O’Reilly’s Auto Parts will be opening in the site of the former Boston Market on Washington Avenue.

Freda said Five Guys was officially approved recently, but it’s uncertain when it will open because it will take a while to build the plaza.

Several developments are also in the works for Universal Drive, according to Freda.

Torito, a popular Mexican restaurant chain in Massachusetts, is opening in the former Ruby Tuesday location. Freda expects that restaurant to open in July.

A Hampton Inn hotel will be next to Chick-fil-A and a Panera Bread restaurant will also be in the same plaza in front of the Cinemark movie theater, according to Freda.

Freda said a Jersey Mike’s Subs is being built on the far side of Barnes & Noble Plaza.

Freda said other projects include the continued expansion of Hartford HealthCare in the former Sports Authority space on Universal Drive.

Amazon is working on a $13 million expansion at its facility on Washington Avenue, according to Freda.

Other businesses that recently opened in town include Crossroads Coffeehouse and Bakery along with a new meat and seafood store called V’s. Both are located next to each other on Hartford Turnpike.

A new bakery, Sylvia’s Confection Connection, opened on Washington Avenue.

Desired Beauty, a new medical and personal service business to assist women who have had breast cancer and a mastectomy, is expected to open later this month on Church Street, according to Freda.

The Winchester Lung and Disease Center was recently incorporated into the Yale Health Care System on Devine Street.

“These are just some of the many projects that we are working on to continue to grow our grand list next year and add more consumer services to our town,” Freda wrote in a recent message to residents. “I can assure each and every one of our fine citizens that despite all of the difficult times that we have all gone through together, this government will never be derailed in its pursuit of delivering positive outcomes for our residents.”


‘A historic surge’: Anti-Asian American hate incidents continue to skyrocket despite public awareness campaign

Violence against Asian Americans and Asians has grown despite increased national attention and political action against anti-Asian hate, experts said.

There was a more than 164% increase in anti-Asian hate crime reports to police in the first quarter of 2021 in 16 major cities and jurisdictions compared with last year, according to a report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

More than 6,600 hate incidents have been reported in the year after the pandemic began in the United States, Stop AAPI Hate announced this week. More than a third of those incidents were reported this March alone, according to the organization founded last year in response to increased targeting of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the pandemic.

The new data comes afterseveral high-profile attacks. A man was arrested Tuesday for allegedly stabbing two Asian women in an unprovoked attack in downtown San Francisco. Over the weekend, two Asian women were attacked in New York City by a woman who demanded they remove their masks, then struck one of them in the head with a hammer, according to police.

The assaults are the latest in a series of brutal crimes against Asians and Asian Americans, including the fatal shootings in March of eight people in Atlanta, that left six women of Asian descent dead.

‘Stop killing us’:Attacks on Asian Americans highlight rise in hate incidents amid COVID-19

“It’s not going to be likely to decrease any time soon unless we are very vigilant about it,” said Van Tran, an associate professor of sociology who studies the experience of Asian Americans at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. “We have yet to create and engender institutional change and behavioral change at the largest scale.

Russell Jeung, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, said it’s hard to tell from his data whether hate incidents are occurring at a higher rate or if the community is reporting more incidents because of increased awareness and media attention.

“I think the racism is pretty deeply felt and anger directed towards Asians is still pretty high,” he said.
Despite federal action, rise is ‘accelerated and sustained’

The uptick in anti-Asian violence was first reported in March 2020 as COVID-19 began spreading across the nation and some politicians, including President Donald Trump, blamed China for the pandemic.

Since then, lawmakers have advanced legislation, police departments have created task forces and hotlines, and community members have organized demonstrations and neighborhood watch programs.
Last month, the Senate passed legislation aimed at fighting hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with overwhelming bipartisan support.

If the House passes the law, it would be a “very strong first step,” but more structural changes are needed to eradicate the racist attitudes underlying these crimes, Tran said. He noted there are already hate crime laws that need stronger enforcement.

President Joe Biden signed an executive action condemning racism and intolerance against Asian Americans and has repeatedly expressed concern about the rise in violence.

Biden’s change in tone from the previous administration “probably” helped, but political rhetoric is not enough to quash the rise, according to Brian Levin, author of the CSUSB report and a professor of criminal justice.

Hateful mass shootings terrorize the USA:Why aren’t more shooters charged with hate crimes or terrorism?

“Even with President Biden and Congress making admirable efforts, there’s still a subculture that is vulnerable to either a shallow level of prejudice or a very deep level of prejudice,” he said. “Even people with low, shallow prejudices can act violently based on situational factors.”

Levin, who has tracked hate incidents for nearly 30 years, said the rise in anti-Asian hate crime reports may get worse as COVID-19 restrictions lift.

“We had a 146% increase in 2020, and that is now being accelerated and sustained,” he said. “This is a historic surge and it requires immediate action by civic leaders, educators and policymakers and law enforcement particularly in the area of outreach.”
Better data needed to combat ‘massive underreporting’

Although solving the issue requires a “whole society” approach, Levin said, the “most urgent” issues lie with law enforcement. Although part of the increase he’s observed may be due to increased reporting, there is “massive underreporting” of hate incidents. Better data is needed to evaluate the scope of the problem.

Fewer than half of the victims of a hate crime report it to the police, according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Levin said some places such as New York City, which created an Asian Hate Crimes Task Force, do a good job of counting these crimes; in other places, they fall through the cracks. He pointed to Alabama, which was the only state to report zero hate crimes in 2019.


Dolphins releasing starting free safety, team captain Bobby McCain 2021

Bobby McCain, who exceeded all expectations as a fifth-round Dolphins pick, first as a slot corner and later as a free safety, is being released by the club.

McCain played six season for the Dolphins and will be remembered as a fiery, scrappy and determined overachiever.

McCain earned a four-year, $27 million contract extension three years ago.

But because the Dolphins could save $5.66 million off the salary cap by releasing him, the team made the decision to let go of a captain.

McCain was scheduled to have a cap hit of $7.1 million in 2021.

Five of Miami’s eight team captains from 2020 are gone: McCain, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ted Karras, Kyle Van Noy and Kavon Frazier.

Jesse Davis, Elandon Roberts and Clayton Fejedelem remain.

McCain did not resist the transition from corner to deep safety implemented by coach Brian Flores and defensive coordinator Josh Boyer.

In fact, McCain became a core player in relaying Flores’ messages about trust and accountability to teammates and in the media.

After some rough spots in his first season at free safety, McCain actually performed quite well in 2020.

McCain was generally better in deep ball coverage than open-field tackling. But at times he was put in tough spots as a converted slot playing at 5-foot-11, 192 pounds.

The Dolphins have several other options at safety. Miami has veterans Eric Rowe and second-round pick Jevon Holland as potential starters. The Dolphins also used a third-round pick on Brandon Jones last season.

Miami also recently had a free agent visit with Malik Hooker, a former first-round safety who can play deep safety with range.


Many of us are allowed to take off our masks. Why some of us don’t want to 2021

Last week, the official word came: If you’re vaccinated, you can finally ditch your mask in certain social settings. One might expect the announcement to be met with waves of relief and an immediate shift in behavior. For some there was.

But others remain quietly hesitant — even though it’s safe, they don’t want to take off their masks yet.

According to new guidelines released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear a mask outside except in crowded settings, and can unmask during small outdoor gatherings with vaccinated people.

Masks have offered safety during unprecedented times. They were also divisive and often signaled to which political group you belonged, with studies showing that Republicans were less likely than Democrats to wear or believe in the efficacy of masks.

Wearing a mask meant you were adhering to the CDC and local mandates. The act of stripping off these masks will feel foreign and uneasy for some, and that reaction is not unexpected, experts say.

“Behaviors take time to implement and adopt. They also take time to un-adopt,” says Abraar Karan, an internal medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Remember, it’s not an on and off switch.

‘Wearing a mask was one of the only forms of agency’ during the pandemic

Normalcy was shattered when the pandemic hit. The pandemic robbed us of control: We couldn’t control when we’d be able to return to our workplaces, when our children would be able to attend in-person school, when we’d be able to safely hug loved ones or when we’d resume gathering in large groups. At the start of the pandemic, with so many unknowns, it seemed we couldn’t even control whether we contracted the virus.

Then experts began recommending masks. Finally, we had agency.

“In the last year, we haven’t had much control, both in terms of the vaccine rollouts or testing done early in the pandemic or sending kids to school. But what everyone can actually control is putting that mask on,” says Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist in San Francisco.

“It’s something everyone and anyone can do, and frankly something most people felt comfortable wearing.”

Coping with uncertainty:We all want to know how the coronavirus pandemic ends
People are scared to take a ‘risk’

Mike Bordieri, an associate professor of psychology at Murray State University, says it’s “predictable” that some people are hesitant to follow the updated guidelines, and their cautionary behavior can be explained by the psychological finding that humans often “overanalyze risk.”

Those who are concerned about the pandemic are more likely to seek out the latest information on news variants and global COVID-19 surges, which might lead to a stronger compulsion to wear a mask, he said.

Karan said the updated guidance may also present a struggle for those who have endured a traumatic experience linked to the pandemic, such as the loss of a loved one. People who suffer from mental health disorders may also struggle to adjust.

“People have already gone through so many losses and tragedies during the pandemic, so it makes sense that some people are wary of adopting these recent recommendations until they feel it out for themselves,” Karan says.
Ditching the pandemic ‘norm’ can be ‘stressful’

Nearly half of Americans say they feel uneasy thinking about in-person interaction once the pandemic ends, according to the American Psychological Association’s 2021 Stress in America report. And Sheriece Sadberry, a psychologist, says masks have served as a “natural barrier” for unwanted social encounters.

“You have some people who have enjoyed being able to keep distance from people,” Sadbery says. “It may suit their personality or be convenient for those who aren’t good at setting boundaries or enjoy the peace of having limited social interactions.”