Wildlife Committee Update
Thank you to all those who answered the call and became involved in helping wildlife either by taking an action, adding your name to our wildlife email list or by joining the Wildlife Committee of Sierra Club Connecticut. It is truly inspirational!
This year’s “short” legislative session, which runs from February 5 to May 6, means much needs to be done in a short timespan to pursue the enactment of wildlife-friendly legislation. Towards that goal, the Committee is working on the following legislative priorities:
Prohibit the sale and trade of elephant ivory, rhinoceros horn and shark fins:
Elephants were numbered at approximately 1.5 million in the 1970’s but aerial counts done by The Great Elephant Census in Africa a couple of years ago estimate that there are about 350,000 left alive. One is killed every 15 minutes for its ivory. At this rate in ten years they will be extinct. Rhinos, like elephants, are also greatly reduced in numbers with total extirpation of certain subspecies from various areas of Africa. Shark finning is taking a toll on shark numbers. Although it is banned on the federal level, finning continues due to lack of enforcement. New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts have already passed a shark fin ban, making Connecticut a more attractive haven for illegal trade. The suffering caused to these animals when finned is unspeakably cruel. Unless we close markets, we continue to incentivize the practice.
Prohibit the import, sale and possession of elephants, lions, leopards, black rhinoceros, white rhinoceros and giraffes:
Lions have disappeared from 94% of their range and currently number fewer than 25,000. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, they are vulnerable to extinction. 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. Like other animals in Africa they also face many threats from poaching to habitat loss, such as being used for food and clothing. Leopards are in the same position as the above-mentioned circumstances of the other wildlife. Passing legislation can make a major difference in putting an end to illegal wildlife trafficking of animals and their parts and all the suffering that goes with this practice. Connecticut will then stand in solidarity with other states that have already passed similar bills.
Require a comprehensive public educational program that teaches how to minimize bear interactions:
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.
Ban the use of wildlife in circuses:
Many wild animals in circuses endure cruel training and prolonged confinement sometimes lasting months in trucks and trailers. Wild cats are kept in cages barely larger than themselves, and elephants are chained or confined to small pens. Many are deprived of adequate exercise, veterinary care, or sometimes even regular food and water. It is time to end these performances which not only puts the animals’ safety, but also the safety of others at risk.
Ban steel-jaw leghold traps and body-crushing 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 the 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 Committee also looks forward to supporting other wildlife-friendly bills that may arise during the session. If you would like to find out more, get wildlife-specific action alerts and/or become more involved, please email us.
Here’s to passing meaningful wildlife legislation to protect Connecticut’s rich and remarkably diverse range of species, as well as migratory and international wildlife!
Environmental Lobby Wednesday
April 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 - 12:30 - 2:30 pm
State Capitol - 210 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT
Join us at the Connecticut State Capitol every Wednesday in April. We will be talking to legislators and staff about our priorities and putting the pressure on to pass great environmental legislation in 2020!!
Coalition Legislative Breakfast for the Animals
March 10 - 8:30 - 10:30 am
Legislative Office Building - 300 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT
Meet the great people who work to protect animals and stay afterwards to visit with your legislators. More information...
Kathleen Magner is a Sierra Club member and Chair of the Wildlife Committee.