OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 522

AN ACT AUTHORIZING BEAR HUNTING IN CONNECTICUT.

SUMMARY

This bill requires the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) commissioner to establish by regulation a black bear hunting season in Connecticut. It applies to black bear hunting the same requirements, restrictions, fees, and penalties that apply to deer hunting under existing law.

Under the bill, DEEP's bear hunting regulations must provide for management standards, methods, regulated areas, bag limits, seasons, and permit eligibility for taking black bear by bow and arrow, muzzleloader, and shotgun. They must also:

1. limit the hunting of black bear in the first year to a rate that does not exceed 5% of the state's total black bear population as of October 1, 2017;

2. provide for the taking of black bear in rural areas to offset the relocation of bears from densely populated areas where bear and human interactions present public safety risks; and

3. require DEEP, one year after black bear hunting begins in the state, to report to the Environment Committee on the number of black bear taken by hunting, the number of black bear hunting licenses issued, and any recommendations to modify black bear hunting in the state.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

BLACK BEAR HUNTING

License and Permit Required

Under the bill, no one may hunt black bear in Connecticut without first obtaining a hunting license and any required permits (e.g., firearms permit, bow and arrow permit, or private land permit) from DEEP. Anyone who takes a black bear without a required permit is subject to a fine between $200 and $500 dollars, imprisonment between 30 days and six months, or both for the first offense. For a subsequent offense, a person is subject to a fine between $200 and $1,000, imprisonment up to one year, or both.

Combination Licenses include Black Bear

Under the bill, black bear may be hunted under a variety of licenses, including a firearms license. The bill expands the various combination licenses available from DEEP to include black bear hunting. For example, black bear may be hunted under a combination (hunting and fishing) license, firearms super sport license, or archery super sport license. The fees for the licenses remain unchanged from those in existing law.

Sunday Hunting

The bill allows black bear hunting on Sunday only with a bow and arrow on private land in overpopulated bear management zones, as DEEP determines.

Sunday black bear hunting (1) must be in accordance with DEEP's wildlife management principles and (2) cannot take place within 40 yards of a blazed (clearly marked) hiking trail. The hunter must have the private landowner's written permission to hunt there and carry it while hunting.

Violators commit a class D misdemeanor and are subject to a fine of up to $250, imprisonment for up to 30 days, or both (CGS 26-81).

Tags and Report of Kill

The bill requires the DEEP commissioner to issue tags that a hunter must immediately attach to a black bear he or she kills. The tag must stay on the bear until the carcass is dressed, butchered, and packaged for consumption. The bill also requires a hunter to report the taking of a black bear to DEEP within 24 hours after the taking.

BACKGROUND

Related Bill

sHB 5858, reported favorably by the Environment Committee, allows the DEEP commissioner to establish and issue lifetime hunting and fishing licenses, permits, and stamps, or combinations thereof.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

18

Nay

12

(03/10/2017)