A public hearing to increase penalties for bear hunting in Connecticut is scheduled for Wednesday, March 14. The bill, HB 5469, was raised by the Judiciary Committee at the request of state Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143).
According to a press release from Lavielle’s office, provisions in the bill include increasing fines for bear hunting from a maximum of $500 to a range of $500 to $750 for first-time offenses; from a maximum of $750 to a range of $750 to $1,000 for second-time offenses; and from a maximum of $1,000 to a range of $1,000 to $2,000 for third-time offenses.
Maximum jail time would be doubled for second- and third-time offenses, with third-time offenders receiving up to one year in jail. The bill also mandates permanent revocation of an offender’s hunting license after the second offense, rather than the third.
Lavielle submitted the bill request in response to residents who contacted her, upset over an incident of bear poaching that took place in Wilton last year. They were further upset when the individual charged with killing two bears received accelerated rehabilitation, a program that, if he completes it successfully, will allow him to expunge the charge from his record.
“Many constituents have told me that they don’t feel the current penalties are adequate punishment for the inhumane, illegal killing of these wild animals,” Lavielle said in the release. “Certainly, in this case, our current laws were not sufficient to act as a deterrent. This bill aims to be more effective in preventing people from breaking the law, and to impose penalties that are commensurate with the offense.”
For those who want to testify in person, the public hearing is scheduled for March 14 at 10:30 a.m. in Room 2D of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. Those who prefer to submit written testimony may send an email to [email protected], and copy Lavielle at [email protected] Emails should refer to the bill, HB 5469, in the subject line and include the resident’s name and town. They may include their opinions on whether the proposed penalties are too strong or not strong enough. There is no word limit on how short or lengthy written testimony can be.