Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-262

Title:

AN ACT PERMITTING THE IMPORTATION OF REINDEER.

Vote Date:

3/20/2009

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

2/9/2009

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Sen. Andrew W. Roraback

REASONS FOR BILL:

Every Christmas, at Christmas Village in Torrington part of the display are reindeer outside where children can see them. Christmas Village in the past has gotten their reindeer from Action Wildlife in Goshen. This past year 3 of the 4 reindeer died and they could not loan the 4th to Christmas Village. Due to the fear of disease Christmas Village was not able to bring in any reindeer for the season.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

F. Phillip Prelli, Commissioner of Department of Agriculture, opposes this bill. The current regulations are in place to prevent the spread of Chronic Wastings Disease in our captive and wild deer population. Chronic Wastings Disease in deer is similar to Mad Cow in cattle and Scrapie in sheep. While it is still unknown about the ability of reindeer to carry and transmit the disease it was once thought that Moose could not but Chronic Wastings Disease has been discovered in the moose population. Because of the similarities with molecular structure and other deer, the Department of Agriculture is reluctant to allow them to be imported at this time.

Gina McCarthy, Commissioner of Department of Environmental Protection, opposes this bill. The current regulations regarding the importation of reindeer were adopted in 2003 prohibiting the import of any cervids. Any exceptions to this would put our native deer population in risk of contracting Chronic Wastings Disease. Attempts to contain or eradicate the disease by state and federal agencies have been expensive and labor intensive. No test, treatment or vaccination exists for CWD and if contracted by cervids the disease is always fatal.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

William J. Sulkazi, City of Torrington Parks & Recreations Department, supports this bill. Reindeer are not wild animals; they are domestic livestock and are raised in a controlled environment such as a farm. Chronic Wastings Disease is serious but reindeer are believed to be non susceptible to it. No reindeer has ever been diagnosed with CWD and the USDA has developed a monitoring program to prevent the spread of CWD. Connecticut is one of only a few states that do not recognize the USDA monitoring program. The USDA has determined that after being monitored for 5 years without a positive test for CWD a herd is classified as CWD free because CWD will show up in 3 to 5 years if infected. There is also no public contact with the reindeer they are only on display. The CWD program requires a 9 foot outer perimeter fence and an inner perimeter fencing for the deer, this eliminates any change of contact with other animals preventing the threat of getting or giving CWD. This past year reindeer have been safely imported into New Hampshire, New Jersey Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and Florida. Reindeer don't interact with other species of wild deer and they will be kept in a controlled environment which takes away the risk of getting CWD.

Pat Lavery, supports this bill. Reindeer are a domesticated animal. This means that the reindeer is bred for the purposes of economic benefit to a human community that maintains control over its breeding and place of habitation and food supply.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

NONE SUBMITTED

Reported by: Chris Zavagnin

Date: 3/24/09