HARTFORD, Conn. -- Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) submitted testimony Friday in favor of Senate Bill 227, An Act Concerning Cecil’s Law, which seeks to increase protection for endangered species at the state level by prohibiting hunters from bringing their “trophies” back to Connecticut.
In 2015, Walter Palmer, an American dentist, traveled to Africa and paid a significant amount of money for the experience of killing an endangered lion named Cecil.
Cecil was a local favorite who lived on a wildlife refuge in Zimbabwe. He was tracked with a special collar and studied for many years, giving biologists an inside look into how prides eat, move and adapt to their surroundings.
Cecil was lured off of the refuge’s property and then shot with an arrow. For 40 hours, the wounded animal was tracked until he was finally killed by the hunter.
“Cecil wasn’t killed for food or any productive purpose, but as a trophy,” said Duff. “This bill would help protect endangered species by banning the importation, transportation and possession of certain African wildlife species and products. It does not seek to make criminals out of museums or residents in Connecticut who possess products from another era, when their procurement was acceptable.”
Of the 62 lions who were tagged as part of the same study as Cecil, 24 have been killed by hunters.
Along with the African lion, the African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard and black/white rhinoserous are the continent's most hunted animals.
“The primary reason that each of these species is facing extinction is human sport hunting,” said Michael Harris, director of the Darien-based Friends of Animal’s Wildlife Law Program. “Many of these hunts are purchased by Americans, and the trophies are imported into or through states like Connecticut and New York. Domestic legislation like that being proposed in Connecticut is vital to any hope of long-term survival of these species.”
Priscilla Feral, Friends of Animals' president, agreed.
“Prohibiting possession of the African ‘big 5’ species in the state of Connecticut, through which many African sport-hunted trophies must pass upon entering the U.S., will be a serious deterrent to the remaining Americans who still find pleasure in such a heinous blood sport,” she said. “It will also give law authority a tool to go after future Dr. Palmers, the widely reviled killer of Cecil the lion. Cecil’s Law will effectively shut down our state to a practice that has no place in a civilized society.”
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