Topic:
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION (GENERAL); HUNTING; LEGISLATION; ANIMALS; WILDLIFE;
Location:
FISH AND GAME;

OLR Research Report


February 21, 2007

 

2007-R-0199

RECENT BILLS AFFECTING HUNTERS

By: Paul Frisman, Principal Analyst

You asked if the state has recently opened additional land for hunting or enacted any laws increasing or restricting hunters' rights. You specifically asked about a 2006 bill that would have allowed Sunday hunting.

SUMMARY

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reports that it has opened 13 properties totaling 8,343 acres to archery deer hunting since 2004. Some of these sites allow firearms hunting as well.

In 2006, the Senate approved a bill to allow bow hunting of deer on Sundays. However, the bill died in the House. In 2007, legislators have proposed seven bills permitting Sunday hunting. On January 22, the Environment Committee heard testimony on one of these bills, HB 5120. Raised Bill 1150 also allows Sunday hunting of deer.

Since 2003, the legislature has passed three public acts that significantly affect hunters, PA 03-192, PA 03-276 and PA 04-62. We describe these bills below.

NEW LANDS OPENED TO HUNTING

Table I, below, shows new areas that have been opened up to bow deer hunting since 2004, their acreage, and the towns in which they are located.

Table I: Properties Opened for Archery Deer Hunting Since 2004

Property

Location

Acreage

Sessions Woods

Burlington

311

Centennial Watershed State Forest

Easton, Weston, Redding, etc.

3,450

Scantic River State Park

East Windsor, Enfield

589

Bennett's Pond State Park

Ridgefield

460

Sunnybrook State Park

Torrington

444

Housatonic River Wildlife Management Area (WMA)

Kent, Cornwall

558

Naugatuck State Forest

Seymour

322

Eight Mile River WMA

East Haddam

322

Camp Columbia State Forest

Morris

500

Harkness Memorial State Park

Waterford

157

Paugussett State Forest

Newtown

213

Zemko Pond WMA

Salem

463

Aldo Leopold WMA

Southbury

554

Source: DEP

SUNDAY HUNTING BILLS

In 2006, the Senate passed SB 605, which would have allowed Sunday bow hunting of deer on private property in certain deer management areas. However, the bill later died in the House. On January 22, 2007, the Environmental Committee heard testimony on proposed HB 5120. This bill allows bow hunting on private land on Sundays with the landowner's written permission, provided the hunting is for the purpose of DEP wildlife management.

The Environment Committee also has drafted Raised Bill 1150, which is identical to SB 605. It allows bow hunting of deer on private property on Sundays to help control deer overpopulation in areas the commissioner designates, and, like SB 605, requires a hunter to obtain the written consent of the property owner. Hunters must carry this consent form with them while hunting.

BILLS AFFECTING HUNTERS SINCE 2003

A search of the legislative database shows that legislators have proposed 45 bills affecting hunters since 2003. Nearly 20 of these involved Sunday hunting. Others would have provided free hunting licenses to disabled persons, members of the armed forces, or elderly hunters; or made other changes to the hunting laws. The legislature has approved three public acts that significantly affect hunters since 2003. These are PA 03-192, PA 03-276 and PA 04-62.

PA 03-192, An Act Concerning the Endangered Species Programs of the Department of Environmental Protection

1. sets conditions for administering drugs, pesticides, vaccines and immunocontraceptives to wild animals;

2. allows hunters to use bait to kill deer in areas the DEP commissioner designates;

3. requires the commissioner to issue free private land deer permits, for use on farms that are limited liability corporations, to the corporations' partners or their immediate family members;

4. authorizes the commissioner to permit towns, homeowner associations, and nonprofit land-holding organizations to kill deer and take Canada geese under certain conditions;

5. (a) expands the commissioner's power to control fish and wildlife to protect natural or agricultural ecosystems, and to acquire property for wildlife management purposes, (b) requires that she document any such use of these and other specified powers, and (c) subjects such uses to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act;

6. gives the commissioner authority to dispose of undesirable wildlife detrimental to livestock, endangered or threatened species, or causing severe property damage;

7. permits people to kill rock doves, monk parakeets, and certain other birds in certain situations;

8. increases the fine for disturbing, hunting, taking, killing or attempting to kill a bald eagle, and imposes criminal penalties on people who disturb an active bald eagle nest or enter a posted no-access area for a bald eagle or an active bald eagle nest;

9. expands the definition of dangerous animals, increases the penalty for illegally possessing them, and authorizes DEP to bill a person who illegally possesses one for the costs of its confiscation, care, maintenance, and disposal;

10. expands the law concerning the commissioner's authority over the possession, importation, and transport of fish and wildlife; and

11. requires hunters taking migratory game birds to use types of nontoxic shot that meets U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service standards.

PA 03-276, An Act Concerning Minor Revisions to the Environmental Protection Provisions

Among other things, this act allows non-resident, active, full-time members of the armed services to pay the same fee as state residents for small-game and deer permits, expands the type of ammunition hunters may use in muzzle-loading rifles, and requires hunters to use bows with a draw weight of at least 40 pounds to obtain a DEP bow deer hunting permit.

PA 04-62, An Act Concerning the Penalty for Trespass Upon Certain State Property

This act increases the maximum penalty for hunting without a license on posted state land from up to three months in prison and up to a $100 fine, or both, to up to three months in prison and up to a $500 fine, or both.

We have attached summaries of these public acts as well as copies of SB 605, HB 5120, and Raised Bill 1150. We also are attaching OLR Reports 2003-R-0758 and 2004-R-0624, which describe efforts to legalize Sunday hunting between 1991 and 2003, and what the state is doing to control the suburban deer population, respectively.

PF:ts