Bill would partially roll back restriction on bear hunting

DENVER — A measure to partially repeal a 1992 citizens’ initiative limiting bear hunting in the state squeaked through a House vote Wednesday.

That ballot question, which about 70 percent of Colorado voters favored, barred bear hunting between March 1 and Sept. 1.

The repeal bill, which was introduced by Rep. J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio, would allow the Colorado Division of Wildlife to schedule a summer hunting season. He amended it to ensure no hunting would be allowed in the spring as bears emerge from their winter dens.

“What this bill is about is giving the authority to the Division of Wildlife to manage bear,” Brown said.

Supporters said the bear population has surged in recent years, increasing their confrontations, with humans. Opponents say some confrontations are avoidable, and that humans need to realize they live in bear country, not the other way around.

“As a rural legislator, for me to tell you that gangs in your cities are not a problem, that would be wrong,” Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, told legislators in arguing for the bill. “In rural Colorado, we have a gang problem also. It’s called predators. They have taken lives.”

Coram told legislators of the death of Donna Munson, a 74-year-old Ouray woman who was killed by a black bear in 2009.

Democrats, however, said the woman had been feeding bears for more than a decade despite repeatedly warnings not to.

The bill passed on a 33–32 bipartisan vote. It requires a final House vote, which could come as early as today, before it can head to the Senate.

“As our population in this state grows, we encroach more and more on bear territory, and that’s inevitably going to lead to greater human-wildlife conflicts,” said Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins. “We have a responsibility to do what we can to educate people.”



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