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Lawmakers Consider Repealing Ban on Spring Bear Hunt

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Division of Wildlife
Black bear in the woods

State lawmakers worried about the growing bear population are considering giving Colorado wildlife officials more say over when the animals can be hunted.

House Bill 1294 would repeal a 1992 voter-approved initiative that currently prohibits hunting bears between March 1 and September 1, and would give the state Division of Wildlife the authority to expand hunting dates.  The bill is drawing opposition from animal rights advocates, who worry that bear cubs could be orphaned and would starve to death. 

“The Division of Wildlife is not discussing bringing back the spring bear hunt. We understood the will of the people, the vote of the people - that 70% of the public did not support hunting in the spring,” says DOW spokesman Randy Hampton, who emphasizes the agency is not taking a position on the bill.

Hampton says the agency’s primary concern is to have a healthy, thriving bear population in Colorado, and part of that is curbing the rising incidence of human-bear encounters.  The bill’s sponsor, Republican Congressman J. Paul Brown, says the growing number of human-bear conflicts represents a health and safety issue.  The bill would not change a state law that prohibits killing a female bear with cubs.  It has an initial hearing before a House committee Monday afternoon.