Hearing on possible CT bear hunt draws debate

Animal control officials say bears have been seen on town streets in New Canaan, and now state officials are considering creating a bear hunting season.

Supporters and opponents are debating whether bear hunting should be allowed in Connecticut. State lawmakers held a hearing Monday over the issue. 

Downtown New Canaan isn't where one would expect to see a wild bear, but animal control officials say they have been spotted on town streets, prompting the exploration of a designated hunting season. There is also video of a bear that got trapped in a tree in a New Canaan backyard last year. 

Hunters like Christian Russo say it's an effective way to control the population, but New Canaan Animal Control officer Allyson Halm says she has concerns about allowing people to hunt bears. She says she doesn't think there's a large enough bear population. Cathy Kangas, of the Humane Society of the U.S., says she worries hunting could decimate the state's bear population because bears are slow to reproduce.

Others say if bear hunting is allowed, it should only be allowed in upstate Connecticut where there is more open land and more bears.

New Canaan Animal Control tells News 12 that the best solution is to avoid attracting bears in the first place, by securing garbage and bringing food and bird feeders inside at night. 

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