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Bear management bill passed by Connecticut Senate

The bill allow for the killing of bears if a person or a pet was in danger and for farmers to receive permits to kill bears that pose a threat to their property.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Another step forward is for a bill that looks to address dangerous interactions between humans and black bears.

"At the end of the day I think it was a comprehensive bipartisan to addressing the bear management issue that we have in this state," said State Sen. Stephen Harding, a Republican representing the 30th district.

The state senate voted 31 to 3 Thursday evening in favor of the bill.

It would allow for the killing of bears if a person or a pet was in danger and for farmers to receive permits to kill bears that pose a threat to their crops or livestock.

"It’s clarifying the language to make sure individuals know when and how they can protect themselves God forbid they’re in a dangerous situation with a bear," Harding said.

While the bill has bipartisan support, not everyone is backing it.

State senator Christine Cohen, a Democrat representing the 12th district, voted against it, citing safety concerns.

"I am concerned that the bill is a little bit too broad. And it allows people to you know go out on a trail hike with a gun, what could be potentially inexperienced folks going out and feeling the need to carry a gun on a hike because they may potentially encounter a bear," she said.

The bill also creates a fine for people who intentionally feed bears. A section that also included unintentional feeding, was taken out.

"Unless you’re really serious about doing a feeding ban it’s not gonna work," said Jo-Anne Basile, executive director of CT Votes for Animals.

According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, it would take bears three to four days of natural foraging to consume the number of calories they get from one bird feeder.

Basile said it’s behaviors like leaving bird feeders or trash out that often lead to unwanted interactions.

"They have no interest in us. But they are really really interested in our food and our garbage," she said.

She argues this bill misses the mark.

"I understand the need to want to do something I just think it’s unfortunate that they had an opportunity to do something right and this bill is not that," she said.

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With human-bear conflicts on the rise and a fast-growing bear population in Connecticut, lawmakers argue it is a first step to addressing the issue head-on.

"I think there’s more that can be done and probably should be done down the road but I think that something has to be done and what can be done at this critical moment right now is what we passed here today," Harding said.

The bill moves to the House next.

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at mmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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