Some don’t like it. Others talk about changing it. And then there are those who just ignore it. But the law makes it clear that you can’t kill bears in Connecticut. And the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) as well as the State’s Attorney’s Office are responsible for enforcing that law.
An Aug. 20 CT Examiner article by Angela Carella reported on misleading information regarding applicable law. Let’s be clear, the state has a body of law that addresses the behavior of domestic animals, and it has a separate body of law that addresses wildlife. Bears are not domestic animals, they are wildlife. When a bear is killed, Connecticut’s General Statutes Chapter 490, outlining all things wildlife as administered by DEEP, is the place to look. And the Chapter says you can’t kill bears. DEEP has publicly stated you can’t kill bears. Nonetheless, a bear was killed in Newtown with no consequences.
Our growing tolerance for killing is horrifying. We live in a country where military weaponry, now a consumer staple, has become the line of first defense when we disagree with others, express displeasure or are inconvenienced. We are failing miserably at humanity. And our ever-spreading disregard for human life has trickled down to animals. Or maybe I’ve got that reversed. Maybe it’s the callous treatment of animals that is numbing us to the value of all life.
Connecticut wildlife law identifies the species, seasons and “bag limits” (meaning the number of a species) for “sport” killing. Hardly a day goes by that there aren’t a few species that “sportsmen” can legally slaughter for recreational purposes. And it’s all on an honor system. Who’s watching the woods?
Likewise, wildlife law addresses “nuisance” wildlife – a subjective label that runs the gamut from the racoon who treats your left out picnic as a buffet to the fox eyeing your chickens. Some situations require special permitting. With few exceptions, all require the assistance of a licensed Nuisance Wildlife Control Officer tasked with first exploring nonlethal humane methods. But who’s watching the backyard?
Last, but by no means least, we have our protected wildlife – those that Connecticut is the special guardian for, among them the secretive bobcat and our majestic native black bear. Penalties for wildlife offenses are generally paltry. The consequences for “taking” bear is a slap on the wrist at best, but it’s against the law nonetheless. Who is watching over our protected species?
Bear killing isn’t taken seriously by the state. But some are trying to change that. Laws may be amended in the future, but it is existing wildlife law, law prohibiting the killing of bears, that DEEP and the State’s Attorney have to work with now. And work with that law they must.
I am fortunate there is hardly a Connecticut wildlife species that I haven’t seen, listened to or found evidence of in the space we share with nature. The Lakota word “Iyuptala” which means living “one with” sums it up succinctly. I will do all I can to keep it that way.
Middle Haddam, CT