Colorado DOW May Change Regulations After Record Bear Hunt

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A couple weeks ago we posted an entry about Richard Kendall, the Craig Colorado hunter that took a potential new record 703 pound black bear. Mr. Kendall shot the bear while it was denned a fact that has drawn criticism and now, according to the Grand Junction Sentinel, the Colorado Division of Wildlife is considering regulation changes, presumably to prevent the shooting of a bear in a den.

Kendall’s actions, while a bit unusual, were legal, said Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton. “Currently, there are no regulations prohibiting someone from crawling into a den after a hibernating bear,” Hampton said. “This is the first instance we are aware of a bear being taken in this manner.” While Kendall’s actions were legal, “the idea of shooting a hibernating animal certainly raises some ethical issues,” Hampton said. Emphasizing there now are no regulations regarding hunting a denned animal, Hampton said division officials “are discussing” possible changes to the current rules.


archer51's picture

fact or opinion?

For all those folks throwing their opinions into the mix, here is mine - unless you were personally there you really do not know what happened. The facts are... Mr. Kendall killed a bear using a legal weapon during a legal season with legal methods. Period. If you have never hunted an animal with rifle or bow then you have no idea what even possibly took place. Those of you who have spent anytime in the woods may have some idea. Regardless, we were not there. I do not agree with any modification in our hunting regulations based on conjecture or half truths or perceived ethics. This will only result in more hunting opportunities being taken away. If this situation was prevalent or warranted closer examination by the DOW don't you all think that would have happened by now? Please take the emotion out of this discussion and base your comments on the facts.

WesternHunter's picture


archer51, I think the opinions here were based on the facts.  Do you think you're addressing a group of people who don't hunt or something?  Sounds a bit like it.  Keep in mind that your talking in a forum for hunters with contributions made by hunters.  I don't think there is any emotion exuded in anyone opinion here.  Most members here who spend a lot of time in the wilderness and building years of experience under their belts (and that included the vast majority of us, if not all) are certainly entitled to their view on the matter. You are correct however that the bear was taken by all means legal.  But even the DOW is considering some changes as a result.  I don't think they are basing it on emotion. Do you?

WesternHunter's picture

Black Bear Season

Ethics?  I guess that's up for debate. While I personally would not shoot a denned bear if bear hunting, you have to remember that the CDOW has Black Bear rifle season out to November 21st in some units.  I think it can be expected that most black bears are hybernating by that date.  Maybe the CDOW should only allow the season to go til late October in the fall.  So yeah I'd say that the DOW should make some changes, some common sense changes.  Spring bear would be better. While they're at it why don't they change the waterfowl stamp valid dates to match the watefowl hunting seasons, nobody can legally hunt waterfowl from the end of June to September anyway, so why make them valid staring in end of June?????  Freak'n government!!

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Man, you know that this was

Man, you know that this was going to be an issue when the story first broke.

I am not one to tell anyone what they should or should not do, especially if they are doing everything legally.

However, this was questionable, at least in my eyes, from the beginning. 

's hard to follow what Jim writes, cause he pretty much covers it lol.  But, that bear was, as he said, in a half stupor, and it couldn't have been much of a hunt.

I will have no problem if this becomes illegal.  The only thing I can see, is how will they be able to differentiate, by law, if that bear is just sleeping in his cave, versus actually being "denned up" and ready to hibernate?

Tough one.

I see what you are saying

I see what you are saying about the ethics of hunting being a very subjective thing. Different people are going to have different ethics. Ethics are subjective... the law is not. But when unethical (being used here as a generic term for behavior that is legal but looks bad to the non hunting public) behavior leads to an activity becoming outlawed I am not sure it is a good thing. You claim that there is no such thing as ethical hunting. I disagree... Ethical hunting just isn't universal. Everyone has there line in which they won't cross and some activities have more support than others.

Head shots on big game animals are legal... but everyone I hunt with won't use them because of the chance of taking a animals jaw off and causing them to die of starvation. Extreme long range hunting (over 600 yards) is considered to be unethical by a lot of people too. These activities aren't illegal, rather they are just considered unethical.

Laws that outlaw some type of behavior are just banning unethical behavior. When it comes down to it... a law is stopping an activity that society has decided is unethical and should not be allowed to take place.

In this specific issue, of hunting bears in their dens, I am just fine with the activity being outlawed. I don't see a need to go into their den to hunt them.

CVC's picture

I am going to take a bit

I am going to take a bit different approach to this story - there is no such thing as ethical hunting; there is only legal and illegal hunting.  Ethics are personal and fleeting.  Who is the "big cheese" that decides what is ethical for others?  And why must your ethics be mine?

Consequently, there is no such thing as ethical hunting, but only legal or illegal hunting.

If the hunter shot the bear just before it went into the den would it be any less dead?

Is it unethical to stalk a mule deer to its bedding area, watch it lay down to snooze and then shoot it when it stands?  If so, how does that differ much from what the bear hunter did?

Would it be ethical if the bear laid down outside the den to sleep and the hunter snuck up on it and then shot it?

Did the hunter's actions violate any law?  Did they harm the bear population or cause the animal to suffer unnecessarily?

So, if not, then who cares if the bear was in a cave or not when it was shot?

Chuck-n-Alaska's picture

According to the original

According to the original article the bear was not hibernating, he was fully aware what was going on. A bear in a stupor does not pin his ears back. The bear was also tracked to the den. In my opinion what he did was ethical and took more than a little guts. If the hunting community doesn't get behind Kendall the tofu troops win. I don't trophy hunt I hunt for food I am also a guide. I believe that all hunters whether you hunt for food, horns, or to get back to your roots; we are in this fight together. If the anti-hunter win our way of life is done there is no room for compromise. This is win or lose.

jim boyd's picture

I read about this initially

I read about this initially and declined to comment... I am going to go with the public opinion on this one - at least I think I am.

Shooting a bear in a den - when I would assume it is half in a stupor - seems to clearly lack the sportsman like qualities of fair chase, doesn't it?

That sort of speaks to the fact that a hunter might shoot two bucks that were locked together... and another hunter would take the time - if they can do it without getting hurt - to separate the animals and set them free.... I vote for the latter and they are certainly going to get a lot BETTER PRESS!

Very sensitive to the danger that this type of negative publicity (back to the bear in the den) can bring to our sport, I think this is another one we can get out in front of... a united effoft - even a campaign regarding education about not shooting a bear in a den (for instance) would well serve us in a positive manner and get out out in front of the anti hunters and animal rights conservationists.

When we sit back and let it come to us, we are more or less asking for it, in my opinion.

I do not think we should ostracise Mr. Kendall - I think a great thing to do would even to be to use him as a potential spokeman against this practice - if we could get that type of cooperation from him.

Think of the positive effect that could have... we change the practices of hunters, reinforce our stand on the issue and also defeat the naysayers and folks to would oppose our sport and way of life.

I know a lot of folks are not going to agree with this post and it is hard personally to take this point of view - but as Mr Dylan said "the times, they are a'changin".

We can beat them to the punch or have it shoved down out throats.

I would prefer to beat them at their own game with positive actions and publicity.

Again, my .02

elkkill06's picture

This is a tough one !!!!!!!!!

As far as I see things, this is one of those things that definately splits hunters up and causes problems among our ranks.

Many people have practiced this type of hunting in the past. It is just another type of hunting. Here in Colorado they have already takien away several things that my family loved to do because people want to make hunting look more "ethical" and better in the public eye.

I cannot take my boys and daughter out and teach them what I was taught by my father and uncle on how to trap. I cannot also teach them what I was taught about baiting bears or chasing them with dogs due to hunters and trappers not standing behind other hunters and trappers because we do not want to look bad in the eyes of non-hunters and tree huggers.

We must stand together or we will fall. My .02 !!!!!!