2021 Legislative Campaigns
SB-925 (formerly SB-62) AN ACT CONCERNING THE IMPORT AND TRADE OF THE BIG SIX AFRICAN SPECIES. Passage of this legislation will help to stop illegal sales, poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking of ivory and rhino horn and all the suffering that goes with such practices. Connecticut will then stand in solidarity with other states that have passed similar laws: California, Hawaii, Washington and New Jersey, in addition to our neighboring state of New York, where this mutual support will help close interstate markets. See Sierra Club testimony here and recent newsletter article here.
Governor Lamont Signs SB-925 Into Law
Senate Bill-925, An Act Prohibiting the Import, Possession, and Sale of African Elephants, Lions, Leopards, Black Rhinoceros, White Rhinoceros and Giraffes was signed into law by Governor Ned Lamont on Wednesday, June 16 and is now Public Act No. 21-52!
Although an amendment was approved in the later stages that weakened the bill, its passage moves Connecticut forward in protecting these iconic species. In addition to the Governor for his signature, many thanks to all those who took the time to advocate for this wildlife conservation bill, including member and supporters, animal advocacy organizations and state legislative proponents. Without all these efforts, establishment of this legislation would not have been possible.
OTHER 2021 LEGISLATIVE CAMPAIGNS - The following bills have not moved forward in the 2021 Legislative session
HB-5632 AN ACT PROHIBITING THE SALE AND TRADE OF IVORY AND RHINOCEROS HORN. There are only about 350,000 elephants left alive and one is killed every 15 minutes for its ivory. Rhinos are also greatly reduced in numbers with total extirpation of certain subspecies. Ivory and rhino horns are coveted for many reasons, including as “trophies.” The suffering caused to these animals when killed is unspeakably cruel. Unless we close markets, we continue to incentivize this practice.
SB-66 AN ACT PROHIBITING THE USE OF WILD ANIMALS IN CIRCUSES, CARNIVALS AND EXHIBITIONS. While this bill is in the formative stages, we recommend amending it to match more closely with last year’s proposed SB-413 where, instead of exhibitions, the focus was also on traveling animal acts. Lions, tigers, elephants and other species are often chained up and jolted with electricity during training and they live in stressful, substandard conditions. Wild animals in such acts also pose public safety risks. Rampaging elephants have bolted out of circuses, and big cats and primates have injured people. There are many animal-free shows that provide humane alternatives, while also providing jobs for talented performers. Many countries, states and localities have or are in the process of taking action. In December 2018, New Jersey became the first state to pass a ban, followed by Hawaii.
HB-5177 AN ACT CONCERNING THE HARVESTING OF HORSESHOE CRABS DURING A FULL MOON. Horseshoe crabs are sharply decreasing in number, despite being protected in the state of New Jersey, Delaware and South Carolina. Nearly a million crabs a year are harvested for bait in the United States, however invasive crabs, Carcinus maenas, are readily available to be used as substitute bait. Horseshoe crabs are also critical to the survival of migratory birds, as well as turtles and sharks. Current proposed legislation calls for halting the harvesting of horseshoe crabs during a full moon. While grateful for its introduction, we hope for expanding the moratorium to include the entire mating season, from May to June, to help horseshoe crabs populations recover.
HB-5528 AN ACT PROHIBITING THE USE OF LEGHOLD AND BODY-CRUSHING TRAPS. Animals caught in these inhumane devices suffer severe physical injury, trauma, thirst, hypothermia, drowning and predation. Household pets and the public are also put at risk by their use. These traps are banned or restricted in 8 states and 85 countries. Among trappers who oppose this ban, the most common reason given is that there is already too much regulation, or that a ban on these inhumane mechanisms that will lead to a widespread ban on all trapping. Others have expressed that these cruel devices should remain legal simply because they are less expensive than the alternatives, or because the alternatives are less effective against large predators. However, statistics show that 79% of animals trapped last year were not actually predators. In addition to non-lethal alternatives, the proposed legislation allows for wildlife management and public safety via trained duly authorized representatives of government and municipal agencies. It’s time to outlaw these cruel and barbaric instruments of torture.
Sierra Club CT opposes any bear hunting bills. Rather, efforts towards public education for peaceful coexistence is key. Black bears are a crucial part of Connecticut’s biodiversity. Deforestation in the 1800s dramatically decreased the number of bears, and they have only recently recovered. Hunting does not solve bear-human conflict issues, education does. In 2014, Yosemite National Park reported a 92% decrease in human/bear conflicts due to their public education programs. Education works!
2020 Legislative Campaigns
As noted, some campaigns were raised as bills during the 2020 Connecticut legislative session.
Prohibit the Import, Sale and Possession of African Elephants, Lions, Leopards, Black Rhinoceros, White Rhinoceros and Giraffes
Lions have disappeared from 94% of their range and currently number fewer than 25,000. There are more lions being farmed in Africa for canned hunts than in the wild in Africa. Giraffes are down by 40% and the herds are fragmented. They also face threats from poaching to habitat loss and extinction. Leopards similarly endangered. Passing legislation can make a major difference to ending illegal wildlife trafficking of animals, their parts and all the suffering that goes with such practices. (Submitted testimony here.)
Advocate for a Public Educational Program on Minimizing Bear Interactions and Promoting Non-Lethal Coexistence with Wildlife
Black bears are a crucial part of Connecticut’s biodiversity and need our protection now more than ever. In recent years, reports of bear-related incidents have fueled support for a hunting season. This is a poor solution for many reasons: it has been shown to actually increase human interactions, it ignores the fact that bear populations are self-regulating to environmental conditions, and it does not address the underlying cause of interactions, namely, that residents have not been fully informed about how to live adjacent to bear populations.
Prohibit the Sale and Trade of Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn
Aerial counts done by The Great Elephant Census in Africa a couple of years ago estimate that there are about 350,000 elephants left alive. They are missing from 97% of their range and one is killed every 15 minutes for its ivory. Rhinos, like elephants, are also greatly reduced in numbers with total extirpation of certain subspecies. The suffering caused to these animals when killed is unspeakably cruel. Unless we close markets, we continue to incentivize this practice. (Submitted testimony here.)
Prohibit the Sale and Breeding of Certain Cetaceans*
Wild-caught or captive-bred cetaceans should no longer be held in captivity, sold or bred. These intelligent and social marine mammals do not belong in tanks, and the suffering, frustration and loneliness they experience while living in such intensive confinement should no longer be tolerated. (Submitted testimony here.)
*Whales, dolphins, porpoises.
Prohibit the Use of Exotic or Wild Animals in Traveling Animal Acts
These “circus performers” are often chained up and probed with electricity in order to train them, and spend their lives in stressful, substandard conditions. Keeping large, stressed, wild animals close to the public is dangerous for both the people and the animals. Around 20 human-performance circuses tour the U.S., creating jobs and offering a safe, humane alternative. It’s time for Connecticut to join states like New Jersey, California and Hawaii in banning this exploitation and abuse of majestic wildlife. (Submitted testimony here.)
Ban Steel-Jaw Leghold Traps
Prohibit the use, import, export, purchase, or transport of these inhumane devices. Trapped animals suffer severe physical injury, psychological trauma, thirst, hypothermia, drowning and predation. In steel-jaw leghold traps, victims can suffer for days and have been known to chew their leg off to try to get free. The traps also put unintended wildlife, household pets and the public at risk.
The Wildlife Committee advocates for wildlife welfare, habitat, movement corridors, and biodiversity by:
Protecting and promoting wildlife-friendly legislation
Providing comments on such legislation
Working with other Sierra Club Connecticut committees and building partnerships with organizations, legislators, groups and individuals
Initiating and supporting educational outreach