February 24, 2020

Connecticut: “Big Six African Species” Ban Threatens Legal Hunting Activities

Contact: Joe Mullin, New England States Coordinator

On February 21, the Connecticut Joint Committee on Environment convened to receive public comment with regard to House Bill 5104 (HB 5104) – legislation that would prohibit the import, sale, and possession of items from legally hunted African species. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), coordinated and submitted a sign-on letter of opposition with the support of numerous in-state and national conservation organizations, as well as one of the state’s largest taxidermy studios.

HB 5104 mirrors a similar attempt from 2019 (Senate Bill 20) and it threatens to prohibit the import, possession, sale, offer for sale, and transport of parts and products of any African elephant, lion, leopard, black or white rhinoceros, or giraffe. Misleadingly dubbed the “big six African species,” this bill unduly punishes legal hunting in African nations, deflecting necessary funding for anti-poaching programs, while also financially crippling rural communities that are in great need of the economic support. Not only does this bill run counter to long-standing methods of wildlife conservation efforts, similar legislation has failed to muster legitimacy in the court system.

New Jersey passed legislation in 2016 that restricted the import and possession of lawfully harvested hunting trophies from “Big 5” species by its residents in 2016. The State was brought to Federal District Court under the claim of having violated Section 6(f) of the Endangered Species Act. New Jersey ultimately conceded that the legislation could not be enforced against federally authorized or permitted imports, and in August of that same year, a judgment against the State was entered into, removing the importation and possession ban on items from the “Big 5” species.

If passed, HB 5104 would inhibit lawful hunting activities, while also most-assuredly preventing African communities from receiving much-needed funds. The bill also poses to unnecessarily open the State up to litigation – for which legal precedent has already been established. CSF staunchly opposes HB 5104 and will continue to fight it throughout the legislative process.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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