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Help Protect Vulnerable Wildlife in the 2023 Legislative Session

Kathleen Magner

February 2023

Just a few minutes of your time could save these animals from suffering and death.


The legislative session in Hartford is in full swing for its 2023 session and your advocacy is needed to help get these critical wildlife bills passed

Support HB 5160 – An Act Concerning the Habituation of Black Bears

Connecticut’s native black bears are an important part of our state’s biodiversity. They are a keystone species, meaning that they influence and regulate the entire ecosystem by helping to open up forest canopies by breaking down branches while feeding, helping to propagate new trees and increasing plant diversity. In the era of climate change, an important way that plant species are migrating in response to a warming planet is in animals’ stomachs – helping plants shift their ranges and adapt. Large mammals, such as bears, play an important role in dispersing seeds in this way. 


Please Urge Your Legislators to Oppose Bear Hunting

Bears need our protection now more than ever. Recently, reports of bear-related incidents have fueled the introduction of several bear hunting bills. Sierra Club Connecticut opposes efforts to enact a hunt because this does not solve bear-human interaction issues. 

  • Hunting would perpetuate a cycle of killing because unless attractants are properly managed and people and communities become “bear smart,” bears will continue to be drawn to “human” territory.

  • Hunters most often do not kill bears involved in “nuisance” behavior – they are hunting bears in the woods, away from neighborhood areas where shooting firearms is unsafe.


Now is the time to oppose bear hunting bills and pass HB 5160, a comprehensive bill that includes proactive, non-lethal initiatives such as managing attractants, a grant program for reducing conflicts between local communities and black bears, and humane protocols for orphaned cubs. This legislation is grounded in science and proven methods. 


Support HB 5276 – An Act Concerning the Nighttime Lighting of State-Owned Buildings for the Protection of Birds

Since 1970, North America has lost nearly three billion birds – a staggering population loss of almost 30 percent. Common bird species are becoming uncommon. Birds are an indicator species, and their populations indicate the health of ecosystems. 


This bill would require state-owned and leased buildings to turn off visible indoor lighting and non-essential outdoor lighting during peak avian migration periods to help prevent birds from flying into the sides of buildings. Light pollution is a type of pollution that can be reversed immediately. Studies in cities such as Chicago and New York City have shown that switching off unnecessary artificial lights dramatically reduces the hazards for migratory birds, as well as having the added benefit of energy savings.


Connecticut is part of the Atlantic Flyway, so it is even more critical to enact these lighting measures. Each year, migratory birds fly this route on their long journeys – following food sources, heading to breeding grounds or traveling to overwintering sites. During their critical spring and fall migrations, most birds typically pass over Connecticut during the night when temperatures have cooled and there are fewer predators. Their travel is made even more dangerous due to excessively lit buildings and reflective structures that attract and disorient them, leading to deadly collisions. Circling birds also may use up valuable time, precious body fat and die of exhaustion.


The bill also includes a provision that new and replacement exterior lighting fixtures on state buildings should minimize glare, reduce light trespass, and nighttime light pollution. 


Support HB 5122 – An Act Prohibiting the Use of Leghold and Body Crushing Traps

The use of leghold and body-crushing traps many times results in injury, pain, suffering, and/or death not only to target animals, but also to a wide range of unintended victims, including other wildlife and pets as well as posing a threat to people. In 2015, a 12-year-old boy was injured by a such trap when he was playing near a neighborhood pond in North Carolina.


Just this past January, a bobcat was spotted in Old Lyme, dragging a trap, in pain and scared – as of this writing, its fate remains unknown. Past reports also include a Great Horned Owl, which became emaciated and died after becoming entangled in a trap. Due to the fact that most of these deaths occur out of sight of the public, the fate of many other animals, including missing pets, may never be known.


Steel-jaw leghold traps have been condemned as inhumane by the World Veterinary Association, the National Animal Care and Control Association, and the American Animal Hospital Association. They operate by slamming shut with bone-crushing force on the animal’s limb. Left in agony, victims may chew off their limb in order to escape. 


These devices may not quickly kill the animal, but cause extensive injuries, prolonged suffering and starvation, as well as potentially leaving behind orphaned young. Numerous non-trapping alternatives exist, making the use of these inhumane traps unnecessary. By passing this legislation, it will be illegal to kill animals in ways that cause incalculable pain, fear, and destruction and will help to safeguard people and household pets. 


Support HB 5123  – An Act Concerning The Use of Certain 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 big cats, elephants, bears and other such animals used in these shows. There are instances of the trainers, who supposedly have control of the animal, being attacked and seriously injured. Animals who “perform” in these conditions are prone to health, behavioral, and psychological problems. They are also exposed to loud noises and confined to cramped cages. 


In the U.S., 173 localities in 37 states ban the use of wild animals in traveling shows. There are statewide bans in New Jersey, Hawaii, California, and Colorado. With your support, Connecticut could be added to the list this year! 


Please take a few minutes now to take action on all four of these important bills.

To make an even bigger impact, be sure to follow up with a call to your legislators – they will notice! Thank you in advance for being a voice for wildlife.


Kathleen Magner is a member of Sierra Club Connecticut’s Legislative Committee

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