Posted: Jan 6, 2011 11:53 AM by Elaine Sheridan
Updated: Jan 6, 2011 12:19 PM
The Wildlife Commission has directed the Division of Wildlife to draft a regulation that would prohibit the hunting of bears in their dens.
This is following an incident in the fall in which a hunter near Craig said he tracked a large black bear to a cave, entered the cave and killed the bear sparking outrage amongst hunters.
Many hunters called the kill unsportsmanlike, though it's not clear whether the bear was actually hibernating or just in the cave.
Still, wildlife managers say a ban on den hunting would promote ethical hunting. Colorado hunting regulations currently do not prohibit hunting a bear in a den.
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 prohibiting den-hunting.
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. Commission also oversees Division of Wildlife land purchases and property regulations.
(Photo from Craig Daily Press)