HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The absence of small crates used to confine pregnant sows is not deterring advocates seeking a ban in Connecticut.
Animal protection activists want Connecticut to join nine other states that forbid the gestation crates to increase pressure on pork producers as fewer places permit the practice. It’s one of four animal protection measures moving through the legislature in the final days of the annual session.
“We want to send a strong message that if you use this inhumane farming method, don’t come to Connecticut,” said Rep. Diana Urban, a backer of the legislation.
The crates are too narrow for the animals to turn around and are typically used at large-scale pig farms in the South and Midwest. They’re not used in Connecticut, where pig farms are few and those in operation can number in the “tens of animals, not hundreds,” said Henry Talmage, executive director of the Connecticut Farm Bureau, which opposes the legislation.
“This is essentially the legislature making decisions on livestock care issues without input from people with knowledge on this issue,” he said.
Some U.S. farms are switching to big pens and electronic feeding systems as consumers pressure farmers to move pregnant pigs out of confined stalls.
The Connecticut Farm Bureau supports legislation calling for an advisory council to recommend best management practices and promote other issues. Lawmakers replaced the proposed ban on crates with the provision establishing the council that Urban and other lawmakers are now fighting to reverse.
Annie Hornish, Connecticut senior state director of the Humane Society of the United States, said advocates worry that the council could be biased and “rubber-stamp cruel practices.”
Animal protection groups also are lobbying against legislation that would allow bow-and-arrow hunting on private property. Backers of the measure say it would help control the deer population and end the last blue law in Connecticut that bans a Sunday activity.
Robert Crook, executive director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, told lawmakers in March that permitting Sunday hunting would increase hunters’ opportunities to enjoy “the outdoors and sport we love.”
Julie Lewin, an advocate for animal protection, told lawmakers that “the 99 percent of the state’s population who don’t hunt” should be able to hike one day a week without fear of being accidentally shot by a hunter.
She also called archery the “cruelest form of hunting.”
A third bill again tries to ban the sale of dogs and cats obtained from “substandard domestic animal mills,” or so-called puppy mills. Advocates failed last year to win a ban, but legislation instead established a task force.
In proposed legislation, owners of new pet shops could only sell dogs from publicly operated pounds or certain rescue organizations. It would not apply to current pet store owners.
“It’s not ideal,” said Hornish of the Humane Society.
A fourth measure, clarifying Connecticut law to say that domesticated horses are not wild animals and not inherently dangerous, cleared the House of Representatives this month in a 138-0 vote.
The state Supreme Court ruled last month that owners of horses and other domestic animals must try to prevent their animals from causing foreseeable injuries. It involved the case of a horse that bit a child.
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