OLR Bill Analysis

HB 5315

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PREVENTION OF THE HABITUATION OF POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ANIMALS AND THE STATUS OF SNAPPING TURTLES UNDER STATE LAW.

SUMMARY:

This bill:

1. expands the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's (DEEP) regulatory authority to include prohibiting or restricting the feeding of potentially dangerous animals on private property and

2. generally prohibits, until DEEP adopts applicable regulations, the commercial trade in snapping turtles.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage, except the snapping turtle provision takes effect October 1, 2016.

FEEDING POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ANIMALS

The bill allows the DEEP commissioner to adopt regulations to prohibit or restrict feeding potentially dangerous animals on private property. The commissioner already has the authority to adopt regulations concerning feeding wildlife on state-owned property, though none have been adopted.

By law, members of the following wildlife species, or any hybrid of them, are considered potentially dangerous animals:

1. lions, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, ocelots, jaguarundis, pumas, lynxes, and bobcats;

2. wolves and coyotes;

3. black, brown, and grizzly bears; and

4. gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans (CGS 26-40a).

SNAPPING TURTLE TRADE

Under the bill, no one can engage in the commercial trade of snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) unless DEEP adopts applicable regulations.

Current law exempts snapping turtles from the law that generally bans, absent applicable DEEP regulations, purchasing, selling, exchanging, or possessing with intent to sell or exchange, wild birds, quadrupeds, reptiles, or amphibians. The bill removes this exemption. Accordingly, it allows DEEP to regulate the commercial trade of these turtles. Existing law, unchanged by the bill, exempts from the ban birds or animals lawfully taken and transported from a state or country that allows their sale or export.

By law, violating the commercial trade ban or applicable regulations is a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500, up to three months in prison, or both.

Existing DEEP regulations allow possessing up to 30 wild adult snapping turtles at a time. The daily and seasonal snapping turtle bag limits are five and 30, respectively. The open season for taking snapping turtles extends from July 15 to September 30 annually (Conn. Agencies Reg. 26-55-3 and 26-66-14).

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

17

Nay

11

(03/04/2016)