Simsbury getting up close and personal with black bears, debate over bear hunting

Animals and Wildlife

SIMSBURY, Conn. (WTNH)– Bear sightings are so common in Connecticut. Is it only a matter of time before someone gets hurt? Some state lawmakers are pushing to make bear hunting legal to control the population, but the idea of hunting is a pretty ‘thorny’ issue.

Related: State Senators call for bear hunting in CT after Southbury attack

The town of Simsbury has seen a recent increase in black bear sightings. Animal Control says they are the incident for which they get the most calls. They have been getting dozens of calls for the sightings a week.

Related: Newtown man knocked to the ground by black bear near Lake Zoar

“We are seeing a lot of them up close and personal with us,” Mark Rudewicz, a Simsbury Animal Control Officer, told News 8. “Many of them have seemed to not to have much fear of us.”

Denise Williams said, “I’ve had a mom and few cubs in my backyard, which were cute but kind of scary.”

Carole Metz added, “My son had one in his swimming pool, so they are all over.”

The town of Simsbury is working with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to look at non-lethal plans to control the bear population.

Rudewicz explained, “Our state has been great – our DEEP and our biologists – with moving some of the bears out of the area.” According to DEEP, there’s been 578 bear sightings in Simsbury since this time last year. 

“I have mixed feelings about them,” Williams said. “I love them. They are cute, but really dangerous.”

Black bear hunting is up for debate. Local lawmakers have submitted legislation that would allow for legal hunting methods to limit the black bear population.

In a statement, State Representative Bill Buckbee told News 8, “I believe that it is important to strike a healthy balance of protecting our wildlife population and preserving our ability to function as a society.”

“Black bears, with no population control, can and have become a major nuisance, which is actually progressing into a public health issue. Recently, a hiker had been attacked by a bear. I have submitted previous legislation that would allow for legal hunting methods to limit the black bear population, by no more than 5% annually, so we can enjoy these creatures without constantly worrying if there will be another attack. After many discussions with homeowners, hunters and DEEP officers who face these issues daily, I see this as striking true balance to what is needed and what will help us all going forward in providing that balance of nature and safety. “

State Representative Bill Buckbee

Even so, some people are opposed to bear hunting.

Donna Corvett said, “I’m just against deer hunting and bear hunting. There has to be another way.”

The legislature will reconvene in February of next year. Bill proposals are in the works, but nothing will officially be taken up until they reconvene for the 2020 session.

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