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Connecticut lawmakers are again considering a bill that bans the import, sale and possession of African elephants, lions, leopards, giraffes, and black and white rhinoceros.  The Environment Committee passed the so-called Big 6 bill onto the legislature for further consideration on a vote of 24 to 8.  Those voting against advancing the proposal were New Milford Senator Craig Miner and New Fairfield Representative Patrick Callahan.  The measure was co-sponsored by Newtown Representative Mitch Bolisnky, Redding Representative Anne Hughes and others.

There are some exceptions to the possession part of the bill. 

Any specimen of a big six African species located or possessed within the state prior to October 1st, and the legal owner obtained a certificate of possession from DEEP within 180 days of the effective date, is exempt.  If one is part of a temporary or permanent collection of a museum, educational or scientific institution, and then not sold, traded, bartered or distributed to any other party, it's also exempt.  There's also an exemption if it is distributed directly to a legal beneficiary of a trust or to a legal heir provided it was located or possessed by the decedent prior to the effective date, the beneficiary or heir does not subsequently sell or trade it to another person, and the beneficiary or heir obtains a certificate.

Any violation would be a felony, penalized with a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 2 years imprisonment. 

The bill does not apply to ivory, live animals in zoological institutions or a circus, or any animal in a motion picture, television or digital media production.

From 2005-2015, 59 trophy hunting permits were issued to Connecticut residents by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service so people could hunt and kill leopards for their trophies. Six additional permits were provided to Connecticut residents to kill African elephants in Botswana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. And from 2005-2016, Connecticut residents killed 39 lions and one giraffe and imported their trophies.  According to the Associated Press, the Connecticut communities that have been issued the most permits for trophy hunting are: Greenwich, North Haven, Norwalk, Berlin, Stamford, Westport, Weston, Easton, Southington and Middletown.

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Todd Schnitt
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