Connecticut Moves to Allow People to Defend Themselves from Bear Attacks

Black Bear iStock-482557323
Black Bear iStock-482557323

U.S.A.On May 18, 2023, the Connecticut Senate voted to rectify a defect in their state law. The new law would allow people whose lives and/or pets were threatened by bears to kill the animal. If a bear attempts to enter a building occupied by a person, the person can kill the bear. These commonsense reforms were likely prompted by the experience of Sgt. Lawrence Clarke. Clarke’s situation occurred a year previous to the vote in the Connecticut Senate.

On May 12, 2022, Sgt. Clarke killed an aggressive black bear that had damaged his property, killed his livestock, seemed unafraid of people, and was watching his grandson with a predatory stare. The officer used his personal target-grade AR15-type rifle to shoot the bear. He was off duty at the time. The incident was investigated. The officer was put on paid leave. Some people were outraged a person dare kill a bear with an AR15. Officer Clarke was found to be fully justified.

One “animal rights” lawyer declared there was no provision in Connecticut law to allow a person to kill a bear to protect people or property. From greenwichtime.com:

Per Throckmorton’s interpretation, state laws make it illegal to “take” a bear in Connecticut, with no statutory exception for protecting yourself, livestock, or poultry against a bear.

In the AmmoLand article, Connecticut Fish and Game code 26-72 was quoted:

No provision of this section shall be construed as prohibiting any landowner or lessee of land used for agricultural purposes or any citizen of the United States, or any person having on file in the court having jurisdiction thereof a written declaration of such person’s intention to become a citizen of the United States, who is regularly employed by such landowner or lessee, from pursuing, trapping and killing at any time any fur-bearing animal, except deer, which is injuring any property,

26-72 only applies to people using land for agricultural purposes. The Connecticut reform bill expands the ability to defend life, pets, and home against bears to all people in Connecticut. The Senate bill S.B. No. 1148, makes changes to Section 26-47 of the Connecticut Fish and Game code, as shown below:

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent any person from using deadly physical force to kill a bear if such person reasonably believes that a bear is: (1) Inflicting or is about to inflict great bodily harm to a human, (2) injuring or killing such person’s pet that is otherwise controlled in accordance with any applicable provision of the general statutes or any regulation adopted pursuant to such a provision, or (3) entering a building occupied by persons.

The vote in the Connecticut Senate was 34 for, 3 against, 2 absent and not voting. The three voting against the measure were: Christine Cohen, Marilyn Moore, and Julie Kushner.  All three who voted against the measure are Democrats; all are strong proponents of more restrictions on gun ownership.

The bill is considered popular, likely to pass in the Connecticut House and to be signed by the governor of Connecticut. The bill does not allow the hunting of bears in Connecticut. Opposition to the hunting of bears in Connecticut is very strong.

Connecticut law has been structured so that nearly everything to do with taking wild animals is prohibited, except as allowed by state regulatory agencies. Wild animals are defined as virtually all animals except rats and mice. Connecticut law has devolved from the defacto U.S. standard, which is: everything is allowed which is not forbidden, to: everything is forbidden which is not allowed, even to the protection of property from pests. This is the ultimate goal of an ever-present State, only experts are allowed to do anything. Any semblance of personal initiative and responsibility is outlawed.

The commonsense approach of the new bill is a refreshing change. It is bizarre it was needed. Nearly 10% of the Senators were opposed because someone might kill a bear when, with considerable effort and expense, the bear might have been saved. It is a classic example of urban women wishing to impose their fantasy vision of animals as furry people on rural residents who have to deal with the reality of nature, red in tooth and claw.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten