Bear killing spurs review of regulations
An outpouring of sentiment over the legal but controversial killing of a bear inside its den by a licensed hunter has driven the Colorado Wildlife Commission to consider possibly regulating such acts.
The Wildlife Commission at its meeting today in Denver is expected to ask the Division of Wildlife to develop a regulation prohibiting killing a bear in its den.
In November, Craig hunter Richard Kendall tracked a potential state-record black bear to its den and then Kendall crawled into the den and shot the bear.
The incident, which prompted countless letters and e-mails, also spurred a discussion about whether taking hibernating black bears in their dens is ethical, safe or adheres to the concept of fair chase, said DOW spokesman Theo Stein.
“Kendall did nothing illegal, but a lot of people, including sportsmen across the state, have questioned his actions,” Stein said. “It’s gathered enough comment the commission decided it’s a topic it wants to pursue.”
There are no regulations regarding denning bears other than it’s illegal to destroy a den. Stories are rare of someone actually pursuing a bear into its den.
“It’s not something we hear about very often,” agreed DOW spokesman Randy Hampton. “But after talking with long-time (game wardens), I’ve heard a few similar stories.”
Any regulation about denned bears is at least three months away. If directed, the Division of Wildlife will develop a draft regulation, which then will undergo the commission’s three-step adoption process.
Public comments will be taken under consideration before any potential regulation is adopted, Stein said.
One potential concern is how practical or enforceable such a regulation will be, given the isolated nature of these incidents.
Other states, including Pennsylvania and Michigan, have adopted regulations banning the practice.
Bear-hunting rules are listed in the DOW’s annual big-game hunting brochure. The deadline for inclusion in the 2011 brochure is May, which gives the commission sufficient time to hear any proposed regulation.
The commission also is expected to consider predator management plans in southwest Colorado.
The first project would seek to reduce predation on Gunnison sage-grouse in and around the Miramonte/Dan Noble State Wildlife Area near Norwood.
Mountain lion predation also is being targeted as one reason for the failure of a project to introduce desert bighorn sheep in Big Gypsum Valley near Montrose.
The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. You can listen to the meeting live at wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeCommission/.