Connecticut lawmakers considering bear hunting season

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Credit: Jack W. in Torrington

HARTFORD — With bear sightings on the increase in Connecticut, lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow the animals to be hunted.

The General Assembly’s Environment Committee will hear testimony Monday on a bill requiring the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to come up with regulations and standards for black bear management, including hunting seasons and permit eligibility.

Days before the hearing, numerous opponents and proponents had already submitted written testimony on the bill, originally proposed by Litchfield Rep. Craig Miner, the committee’s Republican Senate chairman.

DEEP said it will be a two-to-three year process when and if the hunting will start. Supporters will first have to get the bill passed in both chambers of the state assembly. Then, they will have to talk to neighboring states about how they go about regulating bear hunts – studies will need to be done, as well. They will have to determine which types of qualifications should be required to hunt bears – and what types of weapons ought to be used vs. those that might be “inhumane” or “inefficient.”

Right now, DEEP officials estimate that there are approximately 800 bears in the northwest corner. They believe that once numbers hit about 3,000, the black bears will become a nuisance.

Opponents contend bears are a slow-to-reproduce species and would be susceptible to overhunting.

But proponents note how bears are moving into more urban areas and can be costly for the state to handle. They say a regulated hunting season would save the state money.