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Stop making Connecticut a sanctuary state -- for bears

Nature is and long will remain a great advantage of life in Connecticut. Suburban and rural towns are set in the middle of nature, and the state's small cities are never far away from it. Because of agriculture's decline, the state is more forested than it was a couple of centuries ago, and because state government has amassed so many unfunded liabilities, there won't be much if any economic growth here for decades more. Nature is secure in the state.

But nature is not always benign in Connecticut any more than it is always benign anywhere else. Alligators, deadly snakes and spiders, cougars, and great white sharks are part of nature too and dangerous to civilization. Fortunately Connecticut has few of those but increasingly it has bears instead.

In the last year in Connecticut bears haven't just knocked down birdfeeders. They have broken into houses and injured or killed pets as well as farm animals in their pens. A week ago a bear even attacked a hiker in Southbury. Bears have been spreading throughout the state from the northwest and have caused consternation even in inner suburbs and cities, prompting environmental police to tranquilize them, tag them, and relocate them to the deep woods.

But soon they come back with their friends and cubs.

So last week the controversy about bear hunting was renewed. Two Republican state senators from the western part of the state, Craig Miner of Litchfield and Eric Berthel of Waterbury, called for bear-hunting legislation, perhaps applying only to Litchfield County, where bears seem most numerous, their main point of entry to the state. Animal lovers in the General Assembly and elsewhere promptly renewed their opposition, asserting that bears can be deterred by peaceful methods.

The peaceful deterrence argument is not persuasive, for it concedes a perpetual increase in the bear population and their becoming common everywhere, with Connecticut becoming essentially a "sanctuary state" not just for illegal immigrants but bears as well. Under current policy the state is probably only a few years away from that. Bears are cuter than alligators and Burmese pythons, the bane of south Florida, but there is no good in having such creatures nearby.

A bear hunting season in Connecticut won't endanger the species but may push bears back toward the north woods, where they belong. It's worth a try.

Nanny Ned

Last week Governor Lamont joined other advocates of the nanny state in celebrating implementation of the new law raising to 21 the age of eligibility for purchasing tobacco products. The rest of Connecticut is supposed to believe that young people don't have older friends to buy them age-restricted contraband.

While the governor and the nanny-staters were celebrating the new tobacco law, Manchester celebrated the inauguration of a 19-year-old member of its Board of Education. The irony of public policy here passed unnoticed − that the 19-year-old is deemed mature enough to decide how to operate the public schools but not to decide whether to use tobacco or, for that matter, drink alcoholic beverages.

The age of majority will always be arbitrary, a matter of judgment, but to make any sense it has to be consistent. To serve in the military, to vote, and to hold public office at 19 but to be forbidden to purchase tobacco or alcohol is nonsense, but, like so much else in Connecticut, it's the law because it's politically correct nonsense. Mainly it just lets the nanny-staters feel good about themselves. 

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.



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