Connecticut Anti-Hunting Bill Stalls in House

Connecticut Anti-Hunting Bill Stalls in House

Posted In: The Hunt

Posted By: Jordan Ongstad (May 6, 2016)

With the Connecticut General Assembly ending on Wednesday, May 4th, hunters with African mounts can breath a sigh of relief.  The proposed bill dubbed “Cecil’s Law” (Bill 227),  would make it illegal to import any of the “Big Five African Species” and any current owners of taxidermy mounts would be required to register their mounts with the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection (CEEP) or face a Felony Charge and potential confiscation.

The Bill

Spearheaded by 13 Republican Senators, Bill 227 aims to impose bans on “…import, possess, sell, offer for sale or transport in this state any big five African species.”.  The African Big Five Species outlined in the bill are: African elephant (loxodonta africana), African lion (panthera leo), African leopard (panthera pardus pardus), black rhinoceros (diceros bicornis) and white rhinoceros (ceratotherium simum cottoni). 

The bill also makes mention of those animals (alive or dead) already in the state, specifically those animals owned by hunters residing in Connecticut.  These specimens already “…located or possessed within the state prior to the effective date of this section and the legal owner of such specimen obtained a certificate of possession from the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection;”.  Failure to comply would be considered “…a felony, subjecting a violator to a fine of up to $10,000, up to two years in prison, or both.”.

On March 27th, 2016 the bill passed in the Senate 27 to 9 (19 required for passing).  With only 7 days left in the legislative session, the House had time to pass the bill, however it never even made it to the floor for a vote.

The full bill can be found At This Link

Connecticut Law Fails on Rhino BanPhoto Credit: BLACK RHINO via photopin (license)

General Confusion

Although many proponents of the bill site recent efforts from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) upping the conservation status of the African Lion in January of this year, they strategically leave out the fact that the FWS doesn’t list hunting as a cause of population decline in the lion (with Habitat Loss and Retailatory Killings being at the top of the list).  Beyond this, the bill calls for a complete ban of the African Lion (Panthera leo), when only two sub-species (Panthera leo leo and Panthera leo melanochaita) are protected under the endangered species act.

There is also some confusion from the representatives on the import process of trophy animals.  The tone of the co-sponsors of the bill is to limit the number of animals illegally brought into the US.  They feel the only way to accomplish this is the blanket ban of imports.  However, the import process is already designed to only allow legally taken animals into the US.  Imports are controlled by the FWS and can only be brought in through a designated port.  If the animal is protect under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), you need a CITES export document from the country the animal was taken. Even further restrictions are in place for more rare animals (such as the African Leopard), which require an import permit from the United States.  These procedures are in place to only allow legally taken, conservation minded animals from being brought into the United States.

Blanket bans like this seem to be sweeping the country and we as sportsmen need to do our part to stop irrational legislation like this.  There are already federal regulations in place designed to stop illegal and illicit activities around protected animals. Unqualified and uninformed state legislaters shouldn’t be creating simple laws on very complex issues like Trophy Hunting.

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