Last year the NRA successfully led the charge to defeat New York Senate Bill 4686, one in a stream of trophy import-ban proposals in several states following the killing of “Cecil the lion” in Zimbabwe last summer—the taking of which anti-hunters hyped to fit their political agendas. After experiencing defeat in New York, antis have pushed for similar bills in Connecticut and New Jersey, referred to as “Cecil’s laws.” Here is where things stand in those states.
Early last week, anti-hunting Senate Bill 227—introduced by Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) to prohibit hunters from bringing their African Big Five trophies home to Connecticut—passed the state Senate and headed for the House. Referred to as “An Act Concerning Cecil’s Law,” the bill was drafted by Duff with assistance from the anti-hunting extremist group Friends of Animals, which claims a ban would aid endangered species around the world—implying that regulated hunting endangers these species. Not true. The importation of these trophies is already strictly regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in accordance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Fortunately, the bill was killed in the House on Thursday, May 5, as American hunters know too well, the antis never stop, which is why we must remain ever vigilant in Connecticut—and in every other state.
The NRA has been watching two similar bills in New Jersey—Senate Bill 977 and Senate Bill 978—that have been on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk for some time. Last week the governor conditionally vetoed them, objecting to certain parts of the legislation. However, he said he will sign the bills if the following amendments are made and then re-enacted through the Legislature. The amendments include:
• Removing the Cape buffalo from the Big Five list of species addressed.
• Only naming CITES-listed species and not incorporating any species on any IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) list.
• Allowing legally-hunted sport trophies to be imported into a port overseen by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ).
• Allowing legally-hunted sport trophies to be transported through the state.
• Not requiring existing owners of covered items to register them with the Department of Environmental Protection.
Both Chambers need to accept Governor Christie’s conditions. Yesterday the NRA, SCI and other hunter-based groups kept watch as the New Jersey Senate put the veto to a vote. The result: The Senate concurred with Christie's conditional veto: 40-0. It is important to note that if the conditional veto holds, such proposals still will prohibit a person from importing the covered Big Five species and keeping them in the state. Because the PANYNJ is a joint venture between New York and New Jersey, the New York General Assembly would need to pass identical legislation.
Punishing Hunters is Not the Answer
Of course, such bans merely punish hunters who may spend tens of thousands of dollars to go on such hunts—often as their once-in-a-lifetime adventure. In addition, not only has regulated hunting proved to benefit wildlife species, but such barriers to big-game hunting ultimately hurt the African nations that count on hunter-generated monies to fund wildlife conservation programs and anti-poaching units and to provide local communities with a renewable income source.
As American hunters expect, the NRA is actively monitoring all such legislation and will report back to hunters with updates as they become available.