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Connecticut animal activists rally to stop proposed bear hunt

Populations of black bear in particular are spiraling upwards in many parts of the northern half of the U.S., as roads, homes and camping spots infringe on bear territory.
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Populations of black bear in particular are spiraling upwards in many parts of the northern half of the U.S., as roads, homes and camping spots infringe on bear territory.

Connecticut animal activists gathered at the Capitol on Friday to protest a proposed bear hunt. They said humans should be doing more to keep the bears out of populated areas.

An increase in bear sightings has led legislators to consider allowing hunters to kill the animals. Connecticut is the only Northeastern state with a growing bear population that does not allow a hunt.

But animal activists like Alexander Petals said hunting the bears may be more dangerous than leaving them alone.

“If we send a bunch of hunters out into the woods and tell them to go and shoot the bears, we're going to be scaring bears, more bears, likely, into houses,” Petals said. “It is not a very good solution.”

Petals said there is a more humane way to keep the bears in the woods.

“The main thing we need to do is have people put away their bird feeders when bears are out,” Petals said. “We need to have people using bear-safe trash cans, keeping their areas somewhat clean, so not leaving their trash out. And then in the event that people do see the bears, scare them off, which isn't too difficult.”

The activists said they support a bill that focuses on those guidelines.

That legislation was introduced by Rep. David Michel, (D-Stamford) and Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria (R-Beacon Falls).

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.