DENVER – A Colorado lawmaker who has called for the state to add a summer month to the hunting season for black bears will instead try to persuade officials to study bear overpopulation and how to reduce conflicts with humans.
Lawmakers have been struggling with how to handle the booming population of black bears. Proposals to allow more hunting have been met with skepticism and bothered animal activists.
Currently, bear hunting is allowed from Sept. 2 through mid-November.
Republican Rep. Yeulin Willett of Delta has backed off his proposal to allow bear hunting in August in favor of studying the matter for possible legislation next year.
He said there’s bipartisan support for the approach.
Willett’s new bill, which is co-sponsored by a Democrat, is scheduled to be heard Wednesday in the House Agriculture Committee.
The measure would direct Colorado’s Parks and Wildlife to evaluate management tools for the state’s black bear population, with input from hunters, animal activists and local governments.
“Going down the road to an expanded bear hunt this year had no traction and no likelihood of success,” Willett said Friday.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife has said the state’s estimated bear population is 19,000.
That’s up from about 12,000 in the early 2000s.
Willett has said the black bear population is a safety issue He told fellow lawmakers stories from constituents on Colorado’s Western Slope about bears getting into barns and sheds and chasing mountain bikers.