Legislative Priorities for Wildlife in the 2022 Session
Sierra Club Connecticut’s Wildlife Committee
It’s that time of the year again when the air is brisk and the days are getting longer… it’s time to plan for the upcoming legislative session in Hartford! The session will convene on February 9 and adjourn on May 4. The Sierra Club Connecticut’s Wildlife Committee will be focusing on banning the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling animal acts, banning the cruel use of leghold and body-crushing traps, and advocating for public education to humanely reduce bear interactions.
Ban the Use of Exotic or Wild Animals in Traveling Animal Acts
Many animals used in these types of acts are “trained” to perform through physical violence and intimidation. Records going back decades show that people, including children, have been injured by bears, big cats, elephants, and other wild animals used in these shows. There are instances of the animals’ own trainers, who supposedly have control of the animal, being attacked and seriously injured.
This past September, the Hebron Fair featured an “educational” tiger act, with tigers walking on a tightrope after being confined to small spaces and stressed. These tigers were from Florida based Bruno’s Tigers, whose history includes a tiger attacking his trainer, Bruno Blaszak, in front of 400 people, knocking him down and mauling him. Blaszak required 40 stitches. How is this appropriate entertainment for children?
According to Animal Defenders International, there are 300 exotic or wild animal acts in the US. Animals who “perform” in these conditions are prone to health, behavioral, and psychological problems. Connecticut needs to ban these sorts of acts; they are not educational, appropriate or humane. In the US, there are 109 partial or full bans on performing animals in municipalities in 34 states. This list includes Bridgeport and Stamford. There are statewide bans in New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, California and Colorado. Let’s add Connecticut to this list! Act Now to Support Legislation in the Connecticut General Assembly to Protect Wildlife!
Ban the Use of Leghold and Body-Crushing Traps
In 2019, there were 500 adult trappers who have state permits to use these devices. The animals trapped are not just the target animals, but any creature unfortunate enough to wander through the area. It’s a cruel and sadistic practice, and there is no rational reason to allow it to continue. There have been well documented cases of domestic animals (dogs, cats) being caught in these traps. This has been documented in other states such as Massachusetts. It seems Connecticut does not require reporting of non-target animals caught by body-crushing traps.
We are supporting a ban on leghold and body-crushing traps with teeth, traps that grab and crush an animal around the middle of their body, usually in water. The animal is crushed and drowned at the same time. There are states that have bans on leghold and/or body-crushing devices (California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington and Oklahoma). We need to work to make sure that these barbaric traps are banned in Connecticut. Act Now to Support Legislation in the Connecticut General Assembly to Protect Wildlife!
Protect Black Bears and Other Wildlife
Other possible wildlife legislation includes a ban on trawling (a method of fishing that involves pulling a fishing net through the water behind one or more boats) and educational initiatives to be “bear aware.” Ask your legislators to oppose attempts to legalize bear hunting. Instead, require a comprehensive public educational program that teaches how to minimize bear interactions. Act Now to Support Legislation in the Connecticut General Assembly to Protect Wildlife!
Please let us know if you’d like to help out in our effort to help wildlife in Connecticut! Email us to get in touch with the Wildlife Committee.
Kathleen Magner is Sierra Club Connecticut’s Wildlife Committee Chair.