By Brent Miller, Senior Director, Northeastern States
Last week, the Connecticut General Assembly adjourned their 2018 regular session without many bills on sportsmen’s issues making it across the finish line. However, a flourish of activity was occurring behind the scenes as conservation groups united behind members of the bipartisan Connecticut Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus to defeat an anti-sportsmen’s bill that would have shut down waterfowl hunting on a section of the Quinnipiac River.
SB 109, sponsored by Senator Martin Looney, President Pro Tempore of the Connecticut Senate, would have legislatively established a wildlife refuge, effectively closing all hunting in the area. On May 1, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) was joined by 12 other state and national sportsmen-conservation organizations in submitting a letter to all Senators urging them not to support the bill.
As stated in the letter, “SB 109 usurps the authority of, and undermines the existing processes in place at, the DEEP [Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection] to determine when areas of the state are deemed inappropriate to remain open to hunting. This legislation not only reduces hunting opportunities in the state of Connecticut, at a time when hunting access is reported as the biggest barrier to recruiting new and lapsed hunters, but it also sets a dangerous precedent for how decisions impacting the regulation of hunting are made in the future.”
The Connecticut Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus worked against this bill to ensure that fish and wildlife decisions remain in the hands of the fish and wildlife professionals at the DEEP.
The following organizations also stood united in collective opposition: American Woodcock Society, Connecticut Waterfowlers Association, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, National Deer Alliance, National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Quality Deer Management Association, Ruffed Grouse Society, Safari Club International, and Sportsmen’s Alliance.
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?