20-year Battle Ends in Victory for CT Bowhunters

It’s time for Connecticut bowhunters to celebrate! The 20-year battle to allow bowhunting of deer on private property on Sundays is over thanks to the passage of a bill by the Connecticut Senate last Wednesday. Senators approved the bill by a vote of 28 to 8.

According to CTNow, Robert Crook, a longtime lobbyist for sportsmen, says that the spread of Lyme disease and increase in motor-vehicle collisions with deer made suburban legislators more sympathetic to the need for deer management. At 77 years old, Crook hoped the measure would pass, saying, "I told someone the other day I'd like to see it passed before I passed. I'm happy, and I think many sportsmen are going to be happy, too."

According to wildlife biologists, healthy deer populations should have 20 deer per square mile, yet some parts of Connecticut have up to 80 per mile. This illustrates the importance of deer management, especially within the suburban/urban environment.

Passage of the bill was assisted by the departure of Donald E. Williams, Jr., who was the longest-serving leader of the Senate. In 2013, after epic political back-and-forth, the bowhunting bill nearly passed, linked to a series of deals promoting early childhood education and the prevention of animal cruelty. When Williams, who did not seek re-election last fall, killed the Sunday bowhunting bill, House GOP leader Lawrence F. Cafero, Jr., retaliated by blocking the early childhood bill supported by Williams.

"That’s plagued us for years, tradeoffs," says Crook.

Supporters of the bill like Sen. Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) spoke about the importance of its passage, noting that environmental groups like the Nature Conservancy support the bill because it “encourages wise land management.”

The House approved the bill by a vote of 132 to 32. Final approval now goes to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.