DENVER (CBS4) – The bears are waking up in the high country and every year this time there are reports of close encounters between bears and people. Now state lawmakers are considering a measure allowing more bear hunting.

No one knows for sure how many black bears there are in Colorado, but conflicts between bears and people are on the rise — there are thousands every year.

Rep. J. Paul Brown lives in southwest Colorado where two people were eaten by bears.

“I’m really concerned about these bears that are very, very gentle and are in town. Folks, they’re dangerous,” Brown said.

Brown has introduced a bill that would allow bear hunting year round in Colorado at the discretion of the Division of Wildlife.

In 1992 voters decided to limit the season to prevent hunting in the spring when sows and cubs are out.

“I think that probably one of reasons they did a statutory initiative was that if things aren’t working the legislature would have the opportunity to make that change,” Brown said.

“Seventy percent of people voted for this; to protect black bears,” Wendy Keefover with the non-profit WildEarth Guardians said.

Keefover says the DOW can already kill problem bears. In fact, it’s put down 170 in the last couple years alone. She says more hunting won’t mean fewer conflicts, but will mean more sows and cubs dying.

“Hunters can’t tell difference between male and female bears and sometimes she may not have the cubs with her, so if a hunter were to kill a female, they would also indirectly kill up to three cubs,” Keefover said.

“Because we have the authority to open up a season year-round doesn’t mean we’ll do it,” DOW spokesman Randy Hampton said.

Hampton says what they would do is consider hunting in problem areas that overwhelm wildlife officers’ time and resources.

“The division now is killing more and more bears because, unfortunately, because of those conflict situations,” Hampton said. “If we have opportunity, our preference certainly would be that sportsmen would be able harvest bears instead us going out and killi them.”

For now it appears lawmakers may kill the bill. So far only one Democrat has signed on to it giving it a long shot of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The DOW has not taken an official position on the bill.

Right now bear hunting is prohibited between March and September.

Comments (7)
  1. Chaig says:

    I’ll bet Wendy works in a building downtown and lives nowhere near bear habitat. They are “teddy bears” to her.

  2. Rich says:

    Please add info to the story that identifies what part of SW Colorado J. Paul Brown represents and gives details of the two human eating incidents!

  3. MYBEARS says:

    Bears are not the problem, PEOPLE are the problem. People who refuse to contain their trash, leave food in their cars, feed their pets outside, leave bird feeders out, and otherwise provide attractants should be punished, not the Bears. I live with the Bears 365 days a year and have no problems.

    If you cannot live with the wildlife in Colorado, try New York or L.A., I’m sure they would welcome you.

  4. Ken says:

    Just annother tree hugging Anti-hunting leftist who has absolutly no idea about the ethics and conservation efforts of sportsmen/hunters. This should be strictly the DOW call. The “lawmakers should be focusing on the economy and leave the wild to the people who know, love and respect it.

  5. MYBEARS says:

    There are NO ethics in killing mother bears which will result in the deaths of cubs. YOU have a bear hunting season, and no one is trying to take that away. I would suggest you get off of your high horse and realize that there are many people that know just as much about wildlife as you do. Just because I choose to shoot them with a camera instead of a gun does not decrease my LOVE and RESPECT for nature and my knowledge of it.

  6. ken says:

    As usual the mentalily of people to take things out of contects and read it into their own agenda. My point was that this Keefover has no clue about hunting. She obviously has no idea that hunting bears can take hours/days/ even several seasons. How are you never going to see evidence of cubs with a sow? No hunter would ever knowingly take a sow with cubs. And as for my “high horse” YOUR name says it all “mybears”. Again this should be the DOW’s call not “lawmakers” or “wild earth guardians”.

  7. BruceInDenver says:

    If you hunt them with dogs, they’re much less likely to root in your garbage, once they learn to associate the scent of humans with danger. They teach their young these kind of tricks, so it will pay dividends well beyond removing the problem population.

    If mountain lions had been hunted with dogs in the Evergreen area, that kid wouldn’t have been killed by one at the Evergreen high school 10 – 20 years ago.

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