New Black Bear Law FAQs
Overview: In 2023, the Connecticut General Assembly passed, and the governor signed into law, Senate Bill 1149/Public Act 23-77 to provide creative strategies to address increasing conflicts caused by Connecticut’s expanding black bear population. This law went into effect on October 1, 2023.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Basics of P.A. 23-77
Q. What does P.A. 23-77 accomplish?
A. The Act allows individuals to request permits to take bears when bears are damaging agricultural crops, livestock, or apiaries, and non-lethal responses are unreasonable or ineffective; bans the intentional feeding of potentially dangerous animals (including bears); and establishes the right to use deadly force to defend oneself, other people, and one’s pets if attacked, in certain circumstances.
Q. How can I reduce my chances of having a harmful bear encounter?
A. Visit DEEP's Living with Black Bears webpage for more information, which includes best practices for living safely with bears.
Q. When does the Act become effective?
A. October 1, 2023
Q. Does this mean there is now a legal bear hunting season in Connecticut?
Q. Isn’t this Public Act just a cover for allowing hunting of bears on private property?
A. No. Take of bears will still require an application for a special permit, and each case will be reviewed on its own merits. Any take of bears in self-defense or defense of others will be subject to law enforcement review per the standards set out by statute and regulations. DEEP will direct disposal of all carcasses.
Self-defense/Defense of Others or Pets:
Q. Does this new law allow me to kill a bear in self-defense or defense of others?
A. Yes, but killing bears is still restricted in Connecticut. A person may kill a bear in self-defense or defense of others, but only in the following circumstances, and only if the person “reasonably believes” that the bear:
- Is inflicting or is about to inflict great bodily harm to a human;
- Is injuring or killing one’s pet that is otherwise controlled in accordance with any applicable provision of the general statutes or other such regulation; or
- Is entering a building occupied by persons.
Q. Does the law let me kill a bear on a whim?
A. No, there still are restrictions on killing a bear. Killing a bear in self-defense or in defense of others should only occur in situations of imminent danger (listed above). Such killings should be reported to DEEP, and law enforcement will investigate. If such killing is deemed not justified under the law, it may be a prosecutable offense.
Q. When will I be able to apply for an agricultural damage permit to take a bear that is damaging my crops, livestock, or apiaries?
A. The permit program will be available starting January 1, 2024, but landowners experiencing crop, livestock, or apiary damage before then may contact the DEEP Wildlife Division for assistance beginning October 1, 2023.
Q. If I apply for a permitted take of black bear damaging my crops/livestock/apiaries, how will that work?
A. Landowners must prove that they have attempted all reasonable non-lethal methods before DEEP issues a permit. DEEP personnel will only issue permits for a specific number of black bears and only for locations where the damage is occurring. DEEP will direct disposal of all carcasses.
Q. Is there an application available to apply for a permit to take bears under the new statutory language?
A. DEEP personnel are developing an application and hope to have it available as of January 1, 2024.
Q. Didn’t the existing statute (C.G.S. 26-72) already permit bears to be taken if they destroyed agricultural crops?
A. No, R.C.S.A. 26-66-1(c) exempted bears, among other species, from permitted take.
Q. Can Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators kill bears now?
Q. How does the Public Act change the section of the statute related to feeding wildlife (C.G.S. 26-25a)?
A. It bans intentional feeding of potentially dangerous wildlife. DEEP will be engaging in the regulatory process provided in the statute to add more specifics.
Q. Can I feed bears?
Q. Can I feed birds?
A. DEEP strongly recommends that residents who live in areas with bear activity limit bird feeding to times of year when bears are not active. Also, several municipalities (such as Simsbury) have ordinances regarding feeding birds during certain times of the year. If bears or other potentially dangerous wildlife are observed in your yard or neighborhood, you should stop feeding birds immediately to prevent bears from becoming comfortable finding food around your home, which can put you, your pets, and the bear at risk.
Q. Will DEEP be enforcing this law while regulations are being developed?
A. Yes, as of October 1, 2023.
Q. If I am composting in my backyard, does that violate the Public Act?
A. No, composting is an acceptable practice that does not constitute intentional feeding.
Q. What is the regulatory process to implement the new legislation (P.A. 23-77)? How long will it take?
A. Timing can vary, but generally the rulemaking process can take at least a year for matters involving high amounts of public interest. A public comment period will be included in this process.
Generally, a regulatory proposal must be:
- Properly noticed;
- Associated with a public comment period;
- Approved by the office of the Attorney General as to legal sufficiency;
- Approved by the Legislative Regulations Review Committee; and
- Filed in the office of the Secretary of the State.
More information on the regulatory process can be found at eRegulations.
Again, visit DEEP's Living with Black Bears webpage for more information, which includes best practices for living safely with bears.
Content last updated on September 29, 2023.