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Bill allowing limited bear killing advances, hunt nixed

Black bear with cubs crossing road.
Francesco Riccardo Iacomino
Getty Images
Black bear with cubs crossing road

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut lawmakers voted Friday to allow special state permits to kill bears that threaten or damage crops, livestock or bees. However, they shelved a more contentious proposal to allow a limited bear hunt supported by state environmental officials grappling with an increase in human-bear conflicts.

The proposed annual bear hunt, which would have been limited to a northwestern Connecticut county, was pulled following outcry from animal rights advocates who argued it was inhumane and wouldn't reduce the number of incidences.

Data from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which supported the hunt, show the number of reported conflicts between humans and bears has more than doubled in recent years with less than 1,000 in 2015 to more than 2,000 in 2022. The number of towns where these interactions, such as the 67 home entries reported last year, have occurred has also increased.

There were two bear attacks last year, including an incident where a 250-pound (113-kilogram) black bear mauled a 10-year-old boy playing in his grandparents’ backyard.

The bill, which cleared the General Assembly's Environment Committee and awaits action in the Senate, also makes killing a bear justified if the animal is inflicting or about to inflict great bodily harm to a human or is injuring or killing a pet. The proposal further prohibits intentional and unintentional feeding of a potentially dangerous animal.

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