Local waterfowl can breathe a sigh of relief, at least for now, that a bill that would designate both the Quinnipiac River and the Mill River as wildlife refuges has won a key sign-off from a state legislative committee.
The state legislature’s Environment Committee provided a joint favorable vote on March 8 for Senate Bill (S.B.) 245: An Act Prohibiting Hunting Along The Quinnipiac River In New Haven.
If passed by the full state legislature, the bill would designate the New Haven stretch of the Quinnipiac River between the I-95 bridge near Forbes Avenue and the I-91 bridge near Middletown Avenue as a state wildlife refuge.
The bill would also designate the New Haven stretch of the Mill River between the I-95 bridge near Forbes Avenue and the I-91 bridge near State Street a state wildlife refuge.
If S.B. 245 passes, the state environmental commissioner will have the power to close the two new local wildlife refuges to “hunting, trapping, fishing, other public use, or trespassing, when he determines such closure to be necessary for the management of any wildlife or plant species or for public safety.”
Local advocates and elected officials have been pushing for the change. In June 2018, New Haven State Sen. Martin Looney and New Haven State Rep. Al Paolillo joined the state’s environmental commissioner for a press conference along the Quinnipiac, where they declared a state-mandated one-year moratorium on duck hunting along the Quinnipiac.
“The ability to hunt so close to densely populated urban neighborhoods threatens the quality of life and public safety for New Haven residents,” State Sen. President Martin Looney said in a Thursday press release. “I want to thank the local advocates who continue to work with Rep. Paolillo and me on this important issue. Today is a critical step in the process and together we will solve this problem, protect our environment, and keep our neighbors safe.”
“The concerns of residents along the river have been heard and I am pleased we are moving closer to enhancing safety and protecting the environment,” said New Haven Rep. Al Paolillo. “I will continue advocating for this legislation so people no longer fear the risk of injury – or worse – from errant gunfire. I want to thank the elected officials, law enforcement, environmental advocates, residents – and especially Sen. Looney – for getting us this far.”