Litchfield County resident charged with shooting and killing bear as Connecticut population grows and number of bears entering homes breaks record

State environmental police charged a 26-year-old Litchfield County man this week with shooting and killing a black bear following a confrontation with his dog — at a time when the bear population has been steadily growing in Connecticut and spilling into residential neighborhoods.

William O’Connor, 26, of Thomaston, was charged Tuesday after he fired a .22-caliber long rifle in the direction of the mother bear and struck it near his property line, state environmental officials said. O’Connor was “reportedly fearing for his dog’s safety” after his dog had run toward the female black bear and her two cubs.

As the bear was “making huffing noises toward the dog,” O’Connor went back inside his house to retrieve his gun before firing, officials said.

He was charged on a misdemeanor count of illegal taking of a black bear by officers who work for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection,

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