Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5315

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PREVENTION OF THE HABITUATION OF POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ANIMALS, THE POSTING OF INFORMATIONAL NOTICES CONCERNING ENCOUNTERS WITH WILDLIFE AND THE STATUS OF SNAPPING TURTLES UNDER STATE LAW.

Vote Date:

3/4/2016

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

2/24/2016

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Environment Committee

Representative Russell A. Morin, 28th Dist.

Representative Mary M. Mushinsky, 85th Dist.

REASONS FOR BILL:

As incidents of human encounters with wild animals, particularly bears, have increased in Connecticut in recent years, this bill prohibits or restricts the feeding and habituation of wild animals. The bill prohibits the buying, selling and possession of snapping turtles or parts thereof with certain exceptions.

The substitute language removes Sec 2 of the raised bill which dealt with signage.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

ROBERT KLEE, COMMISSIONER, DEPT. OF ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION testified that the bill expands the authority of DEEP to

enable DEEP to adopt regulations that would prohibit or restrict the feeding of potentially dangerous animals in the wild on private land as well as on State owned and public land. DEEP is willing to work to achieve the intent of Sec. 2 of this bill without legislation. The concerns about Section 2 were addressed in the substitute language.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Representative Russel Morin testified that the public education initiative is needed to convey the appropriate and inappropriate responses when encountering wildlife. Such education might have prevented the unfortunate incident that resulted in the euthanizing of a bear.

The substitute language removes Sec 2 of the bill.

Representative Matthew Lesser testified that this bill only amends statutes that authorize DEEP to regulate the commercial sale of specific species. No species has been added to the list since adoption and 40 years ago snapping turtles were exempted from DEEP's authority. Science now indicates they should be added.

Annie Hornish, CT State Director, The Humane Society of the U.S. strongly supports public information to promote humane resolutions to conflicts with wildlife and preventative measures to minimize risk of such conflicts.

Amy Harrell, President, CT Votes for Animals, Vernon supports this proactive approach to providing much-needed education for the general public on how to manage and reduce their interactions with bears and other wildlife. Every effort to improve education via signage will save DEEP staff time in the long run.

Barrett S. Robbins-Pianka, Middletown views increased signage as a low cost effective measure to improve safety of residents and wildlife. He is pleased that the bill recognizes the exploitation of snapping turtles due to the increasing demand from Asian markets.

Barry Chernoff, Ph.D., Professor of Environmental Studies, Wesleyan University believes State Statutes need updating to protect snapping turtles to reflect the improved understanding of their ecological contribution and to enhance public safety.

Margaret Miner, Rivers Alliance testifies that biologists now understand the critical role snapping turtles play in maintaining biodiversity and the health of our ecosystems.

Testimony was received from these citizens that due to the increased commercial demand for and value of snapping turtles, it is appropriate to include them in the list of protected animals.

John C. Hall, Jonah Center for Earth and Art, Middletown

Karen and Paul Torop, Middletown

Krishna Winston, Middletown

Luella D. Landis, VP, Mattabeseck Audubon Society

Patricia Rasch

Rebecca MacLachlan

Testimony was received from these citizens that the bill represents a proactive approach to education and will prevent needless danger to residents and wildlife as evidenced by the recent euthanization of a bear after inappropriate interaction with a hiker.

Ilene Coman, East Haddam

Bo B. & Natalie Jarnstedt, Greenwich

Jamila HadjSalem, Stafford

Jennifer Kelsey, Guilford

Julie Lewin, Guilford

Julie Stankiewicz,Manchester

Karen Hurd, East Hartland

Lea Chayes, Windsor

Mary Lawrence, Wethersfield

Sally Westcott RN, Bloomfield

Stephanie Malkin, North Branford

Sue King, New Hartford

Rosamund Downing, Humane Society

Benjamin H. Teaford, Manchester

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None expressed.

Reported by: Jane Dauphinais

Date: 3/8/2016