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Aspetuck Land Trust to host wildlife discussion

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The focus of a discussion by wildlife expert Tracy Rittenhouse, sponsored by Aspetuck Land Trust on Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Church, 10 Lyons Plains Road, Westport, will be on all those large mammal sightings, like bears and bobcats, occurring in the state.

Tracy Rittenhouse with bear and two cubs.

Rittenhouse, associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Connecticut, will talk about her four-year research project studying Connecticut’s growing black bear populations and her ongoing bobcat research project.

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection reports there were 2,251 bear sightings and 3,249 bobcat sightings in Connecticut during 2017. Rittenhouse’s research estimates there are as many as 700 individual bears — adults and cubs — currently living in Connecticut.

“Back in the late 1800s, almost all forest in Connecticut had been logged and removed for agriculture, fuel and construction. Large mammals, such as deer, bear and bobcat, became rare here. Over the last 100 or so years, there has been significant forest regrowth in Connecticut and strong laws regulating hunting. Consequently, today we have an enhanced habitat for large animals,” Rittenhouse said.

Rittenhouse’s talk is the 2018 edition of Aspetuck Land Trust’s Haskin Lecture Series, which honors noted scientists Caryl and Edna Haskins. The couple bequeathed their Westport estate on Green Acre Lane to the Aspetuck Land Trust in 2002, creating the 16-acre preserve named after them.

The Aspetuck Land Trust is a nonprofit land conservation organization founded in 1966 to preserve open space in the towns of Westport, Weston, Fairfield and Easton.

Admission is free to members of Aspetuck Land Trust with a $5 suggested donation for nonmembers. A dessert reception will follow the talk. Seating is limited; reserve by Nov.  1 to Alice Cooneyat RSVP@Aspetuck LandTrust.org or 203-260-4737.

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