While we did not get the news we were hoping for this morning—that Connecticut’s House of Representatives passed Cecil’s Law like the State Senate did April 27— we at Friends of Animals are encouraged that the legislation, which was championed by state Sen. Bob Duff, did so well in such a short legislative session.
It would have been voted on in the House but time ran out as legislators were consumed by the budget. In fact legislators have to go back into a special session next week just to finish the state budget.
On behalf of our 6,000 Connecticut members, FoA testified on March 4 at a public hearing in front of the Environment Committee in support of the historic Cecil’s Law, a bill that was drafted by Michael Harris, director of our Wildlife Law Program, which would ban the importation, possession, sale or transportation in Connecticut of the African elephant, lion, leopard, and black and white rhinos and their body parts—all threatened and endangered species.
To ensure that the legislation would not criminalize Connecticut residents who owned ivory, the bill was amended to reflect that ivory and ivory products that are otherwise legal to possess, transport, import, and sell under federal law are not subject to the prohibitions contained in this bill. From that day forward, the legislation gained momentum with legislators and the media, passing favorably out of the Environment Committee and then the Senate.
We at Friends of Animals plan to continue to invest our time and resources into educating Connecticut residents about Cecil’s Law and to get them to encourage their legislators to support the bill when it’s reintroduced in Connecticut next year. We plan to engage more legislators about why Cecil’s Law is crucial.
In the meantime, we continue our efforts to get the legislation passed in New York State and to oppose legislation in other states, like New Jersey, that could weaken what’s been introduced in Connecticut and New York.
For example, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has conditionally vetoed SB 978, legislation similar to Cecil’s Law that was sponsored by New Jersey Sen. Raymond Lesniak.
While FoA would like to see a bill similar to Cecil’s Law passed in New Jersey, Christie’s proposed changes gut the legislation. As for not requiring existing owners to register their trophies with the Department of Environmental Protection, it makes it near impossible to enforce the bill. If caught, a trophy hunter could just say that it predates the bill. Law enforcement would have to prove otherwise.
As for allowing transport through the state with a federal permit, this proposed change defeats the purpose of not allowing New Jersey to be part of the scheme to allow these threatened and endangered animals to be killed and brought to the United States.
In C0nnecticut, FoA defeated a similar amendment that would have weakened Cecil’s Law with the help of Duff before it passed the Senate—an important victory.
Going forward, FoA will continue to fight for effective legislation like Cecil’s Law that supports our Wildlife Law Program’s long-term goal, to end the importation into the U.S. of trophy hunted animals by 2020.