- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Connecticut Senate approved legislation Wednesday permitting Sunday deer hunting by bow and arrow on private property, handing a defeat to animal protection groups that have beaten back similar efforts for years.

The Senate approved the measure on a 28-8 vote, sending it on to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. The House of Representatives approved the legislation last week.

Backers of the bill told lawmakers that landowners have the right to determine how their property is used, including the right to allow hunting on Sunday. Current Connecticut law prohibits hunting on Sundays.

Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, also said the measure will mean more venison available for food.

“In eastern Connecticut, where many people hunt to put food on their table, this bill is a very important mechanism for them to continue doing that,” she said.

Annie Hornish, state director of the Humane Society of the United States, dismissed Osten’s argument, saying she is changing the subject.

“They seem to be dodging the main talking points used by proponents for years. They’ve been arguing it reduces Lyme disease. I think that’s irresponsible and reckless to say that because it’s not true,” she said.

Under the legislation, property must be in overpopulated deer management zones. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has identified 13 such zones throughout the state. The agency estimates 11 are currently overpopulated, which means they have at least 20 deer per square mile.

Hunting could not take place within 40 yards of a clearly marked hiking trail and the hunter must have the landowner’s written permission.

State environmental officials have told lawmakers that Sunday hunting is a “proven measure used in 42 states to achieve wildlife management objectives.”

The Humane Society says deer hunting is futile because the number of deer “will keep bouncing back up.”

Hornish said she will lobby Malloy to veto the bill, with a simple message: “Non-hunters should have one day of peace.”

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Follow Stephen Singer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SteveSinger10

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