by Angela Carella
The entire Connecticut House of Representatives came out this week for the horseshoe crab – the silent, slow-moving “ancient mariner” that has lived on earth’s shores for 445 million years.
In a time when politicians keep to their camps, red vs. blue, and battle over the veracity of election results and other basics of democracy, state representatives voted 144-0 for An Act Concerning the Hand-Harvesting of Horseshoe Crabs.
The unanimous vote sent a signal that state lawmakers want to ensure that the dwindling population of horseshoe crabs does not disappear from Connecticut beaches.
“The whole chamber agreed that we should protect this prehistoric species from continuing on its rapid decline,” said state Rep. David Michel, a Democrat from Stamford and bill sponsor.
If passed by the state Senate before the legislative session ends May 4, the act will prohibit people from collecting horseshoe crabs from beaches. The crabs are killed and used for bait.
“The vote was absolutely astonishing,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, a Darien organization that helped write the bill. “I have lobbied in Hartford since 1978; I’ve seen a lot of things go up in smoke. But at a Norwalk Democratic Town Committee dinner event a few months ago, I said this bill might pass in its first year, and everybody broke into applause. People want to protect these ancient mariners.”