The bill, S.B. No. 1148, passed the Senate on Thursday, May 18 in a 31 to 3 vote and would allow the use of deadly physical force against bears in specific situations.
The bill accounts for killing bears in the following scenarios:
- If the bear is or is about to inflict great bodily harm on a person;
- If the bear is injuring or kills a pet that was otherwise under control;
- If a bear is entering a building occupied by people.
In addition to these three main situations, the bill also would authorize the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection commissioner to issue permits that would allow the killing of bears who threaten or cause damage to agricultural crops, livestock, or apiaries.
In order to receive such a permit, the property owner or lessee would have to have already tried non-lethal methods such as electric fencing or fortified structures to keep the animals away.
The means, methods, and times for the killing of the animal would be specified in the permit, according to the bill.
Lastly, the bill would also outlaw the intentional feeding of a "dangerous animal" on private land and would make any violation of this an infraction. This would include the intentional feeding of bears, coyotes, foxes, and bobcats.
An annual bear hunt season in Litchfield County by lottery was initially considered in the bill but was later removed.
The bill will now make its way to the state House of Representatives.
The passing of the bill comes after several recent dangerous bear encounters across the state, including an incident in late April involving a 74-year-old woman being bitten by a bear in Avon while walking her leashed dog along Berkshire Crossing Road.
The woman suffered non-life-threatening injuries as a result of the incident. The female black bear that bit the woman was later euthanized at the scene.
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