WEST HAVEN — On a given morning, Kathie Hebert may be pulling weeds at the Sandy Point Bird Sanctuary, one of several volunteer beautification efforts taken by neighbors.
For about two months every winter, however, she worries that doing so presents a greater risk than carpal tunnel; she must contend with waterfowl hunters in the area shooting guns.
“It’s scary sometimes if I’m there in the early morning. I hear gunshots,” she said.
However, Connecticut animal advocates believe the entire framework of hunting as contributing to conservation efforts is wrongheaded.
Priscilla Feral, president of the national animal rights advocacy group Friends of Animals based in Darien, said it’s “strange” to have to consider banning hunting in a sanctuary or refuge.
“People don’t understand what conservation means, but they do understand what sanctuary means: it’s a hands-off approach to natural systems and allowing nature to live in its own way,” she said. “In a working ecosystem it would be that a bird sanctuary is off-limits to poisons and unnatural controls. It’s obscene to have any kind of hunting on a refuge or a sanctuary. There’s very little left that’s off-limits to these hunters.”
Feral said the licensing and permitting revenue structure at DEEP creates a “client” relationship between hunters and state officials.
“If DEEP is funded through the treasury you wouldn’t sell licenses. Instead, they’re dependent upon the sale of hunting licenses so they tend to favor these characters. That’s a problem,” she said.
Feral said bullets and guns are not a “cure” for anything, including dwindling bird populations.