The HSUS Urges Colorado Lawmakers to Respect Will of Voters, Retain Ban on Shooting Nursing Mother Bears with Cubs

The House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee voted to pass H.B. 1294, to allow the spring hunting of bears during their nursing season.  The bill now moves to the House floor for consideration, and The Humane Society of the United States is urging legislators to oppose this bill that would overturn part of a citizen ballot initiative approved by Colorado voters.

In 1992, Colorado voters overwhelmingly passed Measure 10 to prohibit the killing of bears in the spring, when cubs may be orphaned.  The measured passed with 70 percent of the vote.

“This reckless proposal has no legitimate wildlife management rationale and would overturn the clear wishes of voters,” said Holly Tarry, Colorado state director for The HSUS. “Voters decisively banned killing bears in the spring when cubs will be left to starve.”

Twenty-four states out of the 32 that allow bear hunting prohibit spring bear hunting. 

Spring bear hunting:

  • Studies show that the orphaning of cubs is certain during a spring bear hunting season.  There is often no visual difference between a nursing female bear, and one without cubs.  Studies also confirm that hunters are unable to discern the difference between a male and female bear.
  • Cubs are born while female bears are denning and emerge with their mothers in April.  They are completely dependent on the sow until over five months of age – throughout spring bear hunting season.
  • It may take up to 30 days for an orphaned cub to starve to death, with the cub too weak to stand a day before death.
  • Other states have increasing bear populations and manage them without starving cubs in a spring bear hunt. Colorado has a robust bear hunting season in the fall, and hunters already kill 700-800 bears annually.
  • It’s a principle of wildlife management and responsible hunting to avoid shooting nursing mothers and leaving their orphaned young to suffer and die of predation or starvation.

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