A proposal for a bear-hunt lottery in Connecticut is being reviewed this week.

If passed, the lottery could lead to a legal hunting season for black bears in Connecticut – the first one since 1840. According to Paul Rego, a wildlife biologist at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s wildlife division, black bears were hunted and driven out of the state to make room for farms. But the bears started returning in the 1980s, and they are now thriving.

The number of reported bear sightings has increased – from 75 in 1995 to 2,786 last year, Rego told the Hartford Courant. And the growing bear population is becoming a problem for some residents, as some bears frequently visit and dig through garbage cans, bird feeders and compost piles for food, resulting in property damage. Rego says this trend will continue to rise if the population is not controlled.

“I would say the population will continue an upward swing and the costs associated with dealing with bears will increase,” Rego told the Hartford Courant. “It will spread over a bigger part of the state. There will be more frequent property damage and more frequent public safety threats. … The only feasible alternative is to control the population somehow, and I think the most efficient way to do that is through regulated hunting.”

However, even if Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office does approve this proposal, there are still many details that have to be worked out before there is an actual season.

“What this proposal aims to do is just give us a tool that might be useful in the future when we come to, or if we come to, a point where we determine a bear hunt is a direction that we would want to go,” Hyatt told the Hartford Courant.

Photo courtesy of solviturambulando at Flickr.