Police investigate killing of bear that left 2 cubs orphaned

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) - The shooting of a Connecticut black bear that left two cubs without a mother is being investigated by environmental conservation police.

The bear was killed in Newtown on Thursday and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is allowing the cubs to remain free in the area, despite calls from town officials to send them to a rehabilitation center.

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"The bear cubs remain in the area as it is their home range, and their familiarity with the area will increase their chance of success," the agency said in a statement, adding that its wildlife biologists and police will continue to monitor the cubs.

Police in Ridgefield, about 20 miles away, said an off-duty officer from their department was involved in the shooting, but did not elaborate and referred questions to state officials.

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal was working with the agency to obtain a permit that would allow the young bears to be cared for by a wildlife specialist, Newtown police said.

Connecticut law bans the killing of bears, except in self-defense when someone believes the animal is going to kill or seriously injure a person.

Newtown officials told The Newtown Bee that the slain mother bear was known as "Bobbi the Bear," a tagged animal popular among local residents who posted sightings and other information on a Facebook page.

One such photo posted in the summer of 2020 shows the bear lounging in a backyard hammock.