This week, Connecticut Senate Bill 925 passed both chambers as the legislature adjourned for the year, and the bill is now headed to Governor Lamont’s desk for signature. This legislation originally sought to restrict the legal importation and possession of commonly hunted species from Africa. Before passing the Connecticut Senate in May, and thanks in part to efforts from Safari Club International (SCI), the legislation was amended to specifically exempt possession of these species when expressly authorized by federal law or permit, and for licensed taxidermists working on the species within the state.
These amendments in essence permit the import, transport, and subsequent possession of lawfully harvested hunting trophies. Accordingly, they remove the most adverse effects of the bill–making it more a show than legislation with significant ramifications for Connecticut hunters. Legal issues could potentially arise down the road but, for now, the state law is consistent with federal law.
Since the bill’s introduction, SCI has argued strongly that this legislation would be preempted by the federal Endangered Species Act and would therefore be unenforceable. SCI has conveyed a similar argument to state legislatures in the past, including to California lawmakers regarding the Iconic African Species Protection Act in California in 2020, a bill that was successfully defeated.
While SCI is relieved that law-abiding sportsmen and women in Connecticut will not be affected, the bill still seeks to undermine the ability of African countries to effectively manage their wildlife and the effectiveness of their community-based conservation policies.
In testimony opposing Senate Bill 925 given earlier this year, SCI emphasized the detrimental impact that this legislation could have on conservation programs in southern Africa. Contrary to representations by the bill’s supporters, it is documented fact that the world’s largest populations of African elephant, leopard, lion, black and white rhino, and giraffe inhabit Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—the countries with regulated hunting programs which generate income and other incentives for conservation and habitat preservation, and which result in more secure habitat and lower rates of poaching. In addition, these countries have developed successful conservation programs to encourage the rural communities who live side-by-side with wildlife to invest in and protect these species.
SCI is continuing to advocate against this legislation and will continue to stand for hunters in Connecticut and across the country.