The Connecticut measure comes as wildlife officials estimate there have been nearly 3,000 human-bear encounters in the state so far this year. File Photo by Cephas/Wikimedia Commons
June 3 (UPI) -- The Connecticut Senate has passed a bill legalizing bear hunting under specific circumstances in response to a jump in the frequency of bear-human encounters in the state.
The bill, which passed the state House of Representatives last month by a 115-32 margin, now goes to the desk of Gov. Ned Lamont, who must sign the measure in order for it to become law.
Lamont has indicated he favors the bill despite protests from environmentalists and animal rights activists.
The measure allows residents to shoot bears if they feel there is a threat to their safety or property. The law also calls on the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to issue permits for farmers to use firearms to protect crops and livestock.
DEEP officials say there have been nearly 3,000 encounters between humans and bears so far this year, including an incident in which a bear walked into a Memorial Day parade.
Late spring is mating season for bears which means they typically travel greater distances than during the rest of the year. It is also the time of year when bears tend to come out to hunt animals like deer fawn, according to DEEP.
The agency has urged state residents to take down their birdfeeders and store trash in sealed containers and have advised them to make loud noises if they see a bear and to back away slowly into a structure if making noise doesn't work.
Officials have also strongly advised against feeding bears at the risk that they could become "habituated" and used to humans, meaning they could become more likely to approach human dwellings and cause damage.
In April, a Connecticut woman filmed a family of bears bouncing on a trampoline in her back yard.
Environmental advocates have condemned the bear hunting measure, however.
"Killing bears doesn't work, and the proposal fails the people of Connecticut and its native bear population," CT Votes for Animals Executive Director Jo-Anne Basile said in March.
"Without a robust and effective program of education and 'Bear Smart' deterrents, such as bear-resistant trash cans, you will never resolve bears showing up in your backyard, no matter how many you kill," she added.