NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A growing number of bear encounters have communities across Connecticut on edge. The issues with the animals are renewing calls for legislation that would prevent similar incidents.

Earlier in the legislative session, State Rep. Karen Reddington-Hughes (District 66) introduced legislation that includes a lottery system for hunters. That portion of the bill did not garner support.

“The original bill included a very limited lottery that would allow 50 bears to be harvested each year,” Reddington-Hughes said. “This would actually reinstall some of the natural fears the bears have of humans.”

The existing legislation would require bear-proof garbage cans and for residents to remove bird feeders when the bear season begins. The current proposal would also allow the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to provide a certificate to residents raising livestock to hunt bears on their property. Reddington-Hughes said the current bill won’t be enough to solve the problem.

“My fear is that we get to a point where people can’t cook out because that will attract them,” she said. “People would not be able to open their window if they’re cooking dinner.”

According to DEEP, in 2022, bears were reported in 158 of the state’s 169 towns and cities. Other states in the northeast, including Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire, currently allow some form of bear hunting.