Expanded bear hunt off table for now in Colorado
August 21, 2011
DENVER – An expanded bear hunting season in Colorado is off the table next year, according to a lawmaker who proposed the idea unsuccessfully this year.
Republican Rep. J. Paul Brown of Ignacio told the Durango Herald that he will not try next session to partially overturn a voter-approved law that limits bear hunting to after Sept. 1.
Brown said he intends to wait a year to see some results from a population study the state Division of Parks and Wildlife is conducting in southwest Colorado.
Brown said he suggested changing the hunt because of an increase in human-bear conflicts. There were two separate bear attacks in the Aspen area on Friday and Saturday, one that left a camper in the hospital.
“I have people calling me every day, practically, about problems they’re having with bear,” Brown said.
The U.S. Forest Service sent staffers into the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area Saturday to warn campers and hikers about the dangers of black bears in the area.
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State biologists have been studying bear population trends for years, and this spring they began a study that could last five years or more to track bears around the Durango area.
The study had been in the works before Brown introduced his bill, but Brown said wildlife officials did not tell him about it during the debate over his bill.
News that Brown does not intend to run the bill again caused a stir at a Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting Thursday in Alamosa.
Some commissioners talked about their perception that hunters were responsible for a minority of bear deaths. They believed more often, car accidents and other causes were responsible.
“This issue’s not going to go away,” said Mike King, director of the Department of Natural Resources.
He urged policymakers to wait for better data before arriving at conclusions.