Legal Status of Black Bear


In the early 1900s, black bears were classified as nuisance or pest species because of agricultural depredations. Times have changed and bear distributions and populations have diminished because of human activity. Many states, such as Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin, manage the black bear as a big game animal. Most other states either consider black bears as not present or completely protect the species.In most western states, livestock owners and property owners may legally kill bears that are killing livestock, damaging property, or threatening human safety. Several states require a permit before removing a bear when the damage situation is not acute. In states where complete protection is required, the state wildlife agency or USDA-APHIS-ADC will usually offer prompt service when a problem occurs. The problem bear will be livetrapped and moved, killed, and/or compensation for damage offered. In a life-threatening situation, the bear can be shot, but proof of jeopardy may be required to avoid a citation for illegal killing.

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