March 8, 2021

Ignoring Decades of Sound Science – Connecticut’s “Big 6” African Species Import Ban

Contact: Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States

On March 3, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States, testified during a Connecticut Joint Committee on Environment hearing in opposition to Senate Bill 925 (SB 925) – legislation that would prohibit the import, sale, and possession of items from legally hunted African species. In conjunction with Mullin’s testimony, CSF submitted a sign-on letter of opposition that saw participation from 13 other in-state and national conservation organizations.

Mullin’s testimony emphasized the fact that species import bans, such as SB 925, have far-reaching consequences for the conservation of the very species that the bills intend to protect. Additionally, this legislation affects the people and communities that rely on the much-needed tourism dollars generated through hunting. In many African nations, legal, regulated hunting is the primary driver of conservation funding, wildlife management, and anti-poaching efforts.

In addition, Mullin highlighted existing case law that precludes implementation of legislation such as SB 925. In 2016, New Jersey saw this first-hand, as a suit was brought against the state for instituting a ban on the import and possession of items from certain lawfully hunted “Big 5” species, arguing that it was preempted by Section 6(f) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Ultimately, the presiding Federal District Court entered a judgment against the state for this exact reasoning. In 2018, former-Governor of California Edmund Brown vetoed similar legislation, reasoning that the prohibition would have penalized activities that are expressly authorized by the ESA, exposing his state to litigation.

Legislation such as SB 925 is a recurring theme in Connecticut. As previously reported, CSF has worked with industry partners to fight African species import bans in the Nutmeg State for the past several years and will continue to do so going forward.

Currently, SB 925 is awaiting a vote from the Joint Committee on the Environment. CSF will continue to provide updates as they are made available.

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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