DENVER, CO – The Colorado Wildlife Commission has directed the
state Division of Wildlife (DOW) to draft a regulation that would
prohibit the hunting of bears in their dens.
Commissioners were asked to consider adopting a regulation
following an incident this fall in which a hunter near Craig said
he tracked a large black bear to a cave, entered the cave and
killed the bear. Colorado hunting regulations currently do not
prohibit hunting a bear in a den.
Regulations manager Brett Ackerman told the Commission Wednesday
that den-hunting is apparently not common among bear hunters.
However, he said the Division monitors issues which Colorado
citizens may find do not meet public expectations of fair chase and
this incident has provoked significant negative public feedback.
Ackerman said numerous other states have banned den-hunting on the
grounds that it does not meet public expectations of fair
Commission Chairman Tim Glenn said the Commission considers
regulations regarding hunting ethics on a case-by-case basis.
“This is a perfect example of the kind of issue that the
Wildlife Commission needs to look at,” Glenn said. “We talked about
the importance of fair chase for maintaining public trust in what
we do. That is absolutely critical, so for what it’s worth, I
certainly think we do need to address this issue.”
Several commissioners wondered if the issue could be addressed
by closing bear hunting seasons earlier, before bears would be
expected to enter hibernation. But others noted that weather,
elevation and geography all factor in to the timing of bear
denning, which varies across the state. As a result, the Commission
directed staff to draft a regulation specifically aimed at
Division staff will present a draft regulation for consideration
by the Wildlife Commission at its March meeting in Denver.
Commissioners could approve it in May.
The Colorado Wildlife Commission is an 11-member board appointed
by the governor. The Wildlife Commission sets Division of Wildlife
regulations and policies for hunting, fishing, watchable wildlife,
nongame, threatened and endangered species. The Commission also
oversees Division of Wildlife land purchases and property