Contact: Joe Mullin, New England States Coordinator
On June 5, regular sessions adjourned for the Connecticut General Assembly, bringing an end to numerous anti-sportsmen bills that were introduced earlier this year. Coordinating efforts alongside the Co-Chairs for the Connecticut Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) worked tirelessly to prevent several pieces of legislation from reaching the Governor’s desk.
Senate Bill 7: “An Act Concerning Water Fowl Hunting at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk,” sought to prevent waterfowl hunting in the Calf Pasture Beach area in Norwalk. This was a prime example of the legislature attempting to make wildlife management decisions, rather than leaving such decisions to the professional biologists and wildlife managers at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) staff. During the many Caucus meetings, CSF met with conservation organizations and legislative members to discuss the ramifications of this bill and the potential it had in undermining DEEP’s jurisdiction.
Senate Bill 20: “An Act Prohibiting the Import, Sale and Possession of African Elephants, Lions, Leopards, Black Rhinoceros, White Rhinoceros and Giraffes,” intended to prohibit the import, sale and possession of African elephants, lions, leopards, black rhinoceros, white rhinoceros and giraffes. CSF fundamentally opposed SB 20 since its introduction, as the overarching restrictions would have had detrimental effects on wildlife conservation, hindering anti-poaching efforts, while simultaneously depriving rural communities of much-needed, hunting-related tourism dollars.
On February 15, CSF submitted a letter of opposition to the Joint Committee on Environment, seeking their rejection of Senate Bill 20. When a substitute bill was sent to the Joint Committee on Judiciary, CSF coordinated outreach with the Caucus Co-Chairs, seeking their colleagues in the Committee to deny the bill’s passage. Finally, as the bill passed the Senate, CSF submitted an opposition letter to Governor Lamont’s office, in the event the bill made it to his desk.
Senate Bill 245: “An Act Prohibiting Hunting Along the Quinnipiac River in New Haven,” would have subverted DEEP’s open and transparent regulatory process by determining when areas of the state are deemed inappropriate to remain open to hunting. America’s fish and wildlife resources are some of the most abundant in the world as a result of science-based management by state fish and wildlife agencies such as the DEEP, and having the legislature dictating these decisions would have set a dangerous precedent.
As Senate Bill 245 was being heard by the Joint Committee on the Environment, CSF submitted a sign-on letter as testimony to oppose the bill. Working alongside Caucus members, CSF sent each member of the Senate a copy of the sign-on letter, asking for them to consider voting in opposition to Senate Bill 245.
CSF strives to protect and advance hunting, angling, and recreational shooting, at both the state and federal levels of government. While it is likely that similar bills will be introduced in future legislative sessions, the defeat of these bills is an unequivocal success.
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?