State commission addresses several ethics issues at regular meeting
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Colorado Division of Wildlife will change state regulations to prohibit hunting of bears in dens. The state wildlife commission was asked to adopt new rules after an incident last fall when a hunter near Craig tracked a 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.
A state wildlife official this week told the panel that the Craig incident spurred negative feedback from the public. Even though den hunting is not common in Colorado, the Division of Wildlife monitors issues which Colorado citizens may find do not meet public expectations of fair chase, said Brett Ackerman, regulations manager for the agency.
Ackerman said numerous other states have banned den-hunting on the grounds that it does not meet public expectations of fair chase.
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 said 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.
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