CT lawmakers discuss possible bear hunting season bill - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CT lawmakers discuss possible bear hunting season bill

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(DEEP photo) (DEEP photo)

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 heard 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.

Some Connecticut residents said there are too many of them and they're becoming increasingly dangerous.

There have been more bear sightings in urban areas.

State environmentalists said there are more than 6,000 sightings that number goes up 10 percent every year.

"I have constituents who have voiced concerns about the numbers,” state Rep. Craig Miner said. “I have constituents who voiced concerns about how will they seem to be to mingle with their kids." 

Days before the hearing, numerous opponents and proponents submitted written testimony on the bill. Miner, who is the environment committee’s Republican Senate chairman, said he represents Litchfield, which is a rural area with a fair amount of wildlife.

His bill would allow the DEEP protect come up with regulations and standards for Black Bear management including hunting seasons and permits.  

"Everyone in Connecticut assumes there's a place to put these problem bears and there just isn't,” DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen said. “We don't want to move a problem bear. Other states won't take them."

A large part of the problem are residents who have bird feeders and garbage cans in their yards. This is a big attraction for bears.

Another issue is people are often too friendly with bears. DEEP officials made it clear that bears are dangerous animals.

Those against this bill said these animals are slow to re-produce and could be susceptible to overhunting. They favor co-existence.

"We need to be more mindful of how we are dealing with our neighbors the bears like any wildlife,” state Rep. Diana Urban, who is on the environment committee, said. “I think this is really premature to say we want to go out and hunt them."

Following their hearing, lawmakers must now schedule a vote. This bill will certain face some opposition however, New England states as well as New York and new jersey allow bear hunting.

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.