by Patricia Del Rio. Original piece here.

(WFSB) – All week long, Eyewitness News has been talking about the growing bear population in Connecticut.

How many there are, where they hibernate, what they eat, how to avoid an encounter, and what to do if a bear gets too close to you.

In our final night of the series, we look at the debate on whether to have a bear hunting season. There are strong opinions on both sides.

It’s a question that’s been batted around in Connecticut for decades: whether to have a bear hunting season. Each side of the argument will tell you why they’re right.

“Myself, as a bear biologist, I love bears. I’ve dedicated my career to working with bears. I guarantee I love bears and care more about bears than the majority of the people in the state,” said Jason Hawley, Bear Biologist with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). “But for me, I don’t focus on the individual right? It’s not about saving the individual bear. I love the population. I love the species and my job is to ensure that we have a healthy bear population in this state for my kids, my grandkids and great grandkids.”

Hawley said you can love bears but still understand that a seasonal hunt is necessary to protect the bear population and people.

Twenty years ago there were about 250 bears in Connecticut. Now there are about 1,300.


But animal rights advocates like Scott Smith with the group Friends of Animals sees things differently.

“DEEP says they want to kill a momma bear or allow hunters to kill a momma bear so that she can teach her cub to avoid humans, well. What you are going to get is a dead momma bear and two orphan cubs who don’t know how to live in the wild,” said Smith.