The towns of Granby, New Hartford, Barkhamsted and Hartland are home to many bears. Bear sightings are common in this area, so it’s natural that those of us who live here have strong opinions about how our bear population should be managed. I’ve received several inquiries regarding my stance on both bear baiting and bear hunting, so I’m adding a comment here on my web page in order to make my positions clear.
With regard to bear baiting, I strongly support state legislation to ban the practice of baiting both bears and bobcats. People do this for a wide variety of reasons, including the unsavory practices we’re all aware of in both Hartland and North Granby, but it’s a simple fact that feeding bears and bobcats changes their behavior in ways that are unsafe for both humans and animals alike.
With regard to bear hunting, I will support whatever efforts are in line with DEEP guidance. The bear population in our state overall (currently at about 1,000) is projected to double within 5-7 years. That’s a lot of bears. In addition, bear hunting impacts bear behavior beyond the areas where bear hunts occur, contributing to bears being less likely to acclimate to the presence of humans. That is an important benefit that no other approach offers. It is important that when bear hunting comes to Connecticut, we’re careful to incorporate restrictions that keep people safe, and prevent some of the problems seen in other states (like shooting bears in their dens.) We also need to make sure that the DEEP is adequately funded to manage these efforts.
In the meantime, the best thing we can all do for the bears is to not feed them human food; to whenever possible keep our trash barrels where they can’t access them, and to take the bird feeders down from March through November.