OLR Bill Analysis

SB 262

AN ACT PERMITTING THE IMPORTATION OF REINDEER.

SUMMARY:

This bill allows anyone to annually import one or more reindeer into the state between Thanksgiving Day and the following New Year's Day, provided the reindeer is exported from the state by January 8 of each year. Current agency regulations prohibit the importation of reindeers (see BACKGROUND).

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009

BACKGROUND

Reindeer Ban

Connecticut is one of a number of states that have banned the importation of captive members of the Cervidae family, including reindeer, because of the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) (Conn. Agency Regs. 22-278-6). State regulations also prohibit the importation of deer, moose, and elk carcasses or parts from states or provinces where CWD has been confirmed (Conn. Agency Regs. 26-55-4).

Reindeer and Chronic Wasting Disease

CWD is a rare, fatal disease found in members of the deer family (Cervidae), which includes white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose, and reindeer. It is one of a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE's), which also include bovine spongiform encephalopathy (Mad Cow disease) in cattle, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in people.

Once established in a deer population, control or eradication of CWD is extremely difficult. According to some wildlife experts CWD has the potential to reduce deer populations in the long-term.

Although there has been no reported case of CWD in reindeer, researchers believe they would be susceptible to the disease because of their genetic similarity to deer that contract it.

Some states allow the importation of reindeer that are certified disease free. For example, New York monitors CWD-susceptible deer herds for evidence of CWD (and other diseases) for five years, during which time they cannot be shipped off-site. If there is no instance of CWD in that time, the deer may be shipped elsewhere.  Because New York does not consider reindeer CWD-susceptible, reindeer herds are not required to participate in this herd certification program, but may do so voluntarily.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

27

Nay

3

(03/20/2009)