Monday, June 01, 2009

Elephant farm causes lawmakers to ban(s)

Published: Sunday, May 31, 2009  Associated Press (bold ours)

HARTFORD — The Connecticut General Assembly won't take up a bill this session banning a long list of wild and potentially dangerous animals as pets.
The legislation stems from the February attack on a Stamford resident mauled by a 200-pound chimpanzee.

Rep. Richard Roy, co-chairman of the legislature's Environment Committee, said that the bill is being abandoned because some lawmakers want to protect a family-owned elephant farm in Goshen.

Many state politicians were outraged that potentially dangerous animals were allowed as pets after learning of the chimpanzee attack on Charla Nash, who lost her hands, nose, lips and eyelids in the assault. But Roy said Goshen-area lawmakers fought the bill.

"It's dead because there's a piece that was put into the bill that would have not allowed the Commerford family to bring in any new elephants in the years ahead, thereby, essentially closing the business down," he said. The farm has several elephants, a petting zoo and a variety of exotic animals, including zebras and camels. Commerford brings the animals to fairs and malls along the East Coast. "The Commerford Farm is a community fixture up in Goshen and it would be sad to see that business have to terminate what it does as it moves into the future," said Rep. Roberta Willis, D-Lakeville.

Even though the legislative session ends on Wednesday, Roy said it won't be brought up because the debate will take up too much time.

Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, was surprised by the bill's demise. The legislation has been supported by the Attorney General and the Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP will be hosting an exotic animal amnesty day in July to persuade residents to turn in their illegal and legal exotic pets.

"The legislation is extraordinarily important and I understand that there were concerns expressed by some legislators, but there's certainly no excuse for not coming up with a reasonable compromise that would assure the safety of the people of our state," McDonald said.

Besides the Commerford dispute, the legislation also faced challenges from lawmakers who wanted to propose various amendments, such as grandfathering existing exotic animals to legalizing bow hunting on Sundays.
This bill H.B. No. 6552 (RAISED) ENVIRONMENT. AN ACT BANNING THE POSSESSION OF POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ANIMALS AND THE IMPORTATION, POSSESSION AND LIBERATION OF WILD ANIMALS. Title changed from 'AN ACT BANNING THE SALE OR USE OF COMPUTER SOFTWARE OR SERVICES TO REMOTELY OPERATE WEAPONS TO HUNT ANIMALS OR BIRDS'. CCS opposed the "Computer Hunting" and supported the "Dangerous Animals" bill. Of the 14 amendments, the first two applied to the bill. When it was reported the Senate refused to debate S.B. No. 650 AN ACT CONCERNING THE CREATION OF A TRUST FOR THE CARE OF AN ANIMAL. which had S.B. No. 994 AN ACT CONCERNING LEGHOLD TRAPS attached as an amendment, after the bill failed in Judiciary Committee, the Leghold Trap Amendment was then proposed on the Dangerous Animals bill in the House. Both House and Senate Amendments were sponsored by the Chairmen of Environment Committee REP. ROY, 119th Dist. & SEN. MEYER, 12th Dist. The amendment on the Dangerous Animals bill, we felt, was a direct affront to DEP by placing an amendment which DEP opposed on a bill DEP wrote and supported. This amendment, we believe, effectively killed the "Dangerous Animals" bill when it was proposed. Pro-sportsmen legislators then responded by submitting amendments on Sunday Hunting. Then the anti-hunting frivolous amendments began (extracted from separate amendments): the arrow shall be labeled with the hunter's name and license number.; (a) (1) No person shall carry a pistol, revolver, machine gun, shotgun, rifle or other firearm, which is loaded and from which a shot may be discharged, upon his person (A) while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, or both, or (B) while the ratio of alcohol in the blood of such person is [ten-hundredths] three-hundredths of one per cent or more of alcohol, by weight. ;  (c) A person hunting on private property pursuant to subsection (b) of this section shall ensure that any arrow such person shoots from a bow with a draw weight of not less than forty pounds does not leave such private property.;  and A person hunting on private property pursuant to this subsection shall obtain the written consent of the owner of such private property, or of such owner's authorized agent and from the owners of all private property within a five-mile radius of the property such person intends to hunt on, or from such owners' authorized agents. – All submitted by REP. HORNISH, 62nd Dist. These same amendments with more co-sponsors are also proposed on H.B. No. 6553 AN ACT CONCERNING SUNDAY HUNTING.
The Senate bill was passed without the Trapping amendments, and we agree with Rep. Roy that the "Dangerous Animals" bill will not be addressed. The same can probably be said for the Sunday Hunting bill for the same reasons. However, we will continue to be watchful. Your communications helped tremendously to defeat this and other bills.
Remember, Nothing is ever Dead until the end of the session.
The session ends this Wednesday, June 3, at midnight.

Alan A. Huot, President
Wildlife Control Supplies

P.O. Box 538
East Granby, CT 06026
860-844-0101   860-413-9831 (FAX)
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