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3 new conservation laws: Connecticut Audubon members speak out successfully, as bills to protect shorebirds and migrating birds pass in Hartford

Least Terns are among the vulnerable birds that nest on Connecticut’s beaches. The Seabird and Shorebird Protection Act would help protect them. Photo by Scott Kruitbosch.

Update — Governor Ned Lamont signed all three bills — seabird and shorebird protection, Lights Out, and the horseshoe crab fishing ban — into law.

Thank you, Governor Lamont and the members of the General Assembly. And thank you to the hundreds of advocates at Connecticut Audubon and elsewhere who worked hard to get these new laws enacted!

Read the horseshoe crab news in CTInsider.

June 9, 2023 — Three important environmental bills supported by the Connecticut Audubon Society and its members passed the Connecticut General Assembly in Hartford in during the 2023 session.

The three bills:

  • Authorize the state to set up a seabird and shorebird protection program. 
  • Require outdoor lights to be turned off at night during peak bird migration periods.
  • Ban commercial fishing for horseshoe crabs.

Seabird and shorebird protection
Under the seabird and shorebird protection program, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection now has the authority to come up with a list of birds that need extra protection and may also designate areas on publicly-owned beaches to be roped off, from March through September, to keep people, off-road vehicles, and pets away from those birds.

The bill (H.B. 6813) is designed to help vulnerable beach-nesting species such as Piping Plovers, American Oystercatchers, Least Terns and Common Terns. 

Working with the CT DEEP as part of the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds, Connecticut Audubon has pioneered the use of roped off areas and wire enclosures at the Milford Point Coastal Center. Piping Plovers, a federally-threatened species, have fared particularly well there as a result.

Violations are subject to fines of from $90 to $250

The Lights Out bill is likely to help migrating birds such as this Yellow-rumped Warbler. Photo by by Michael Audette.

Lights Out
Under the bill known as Lights Out, state-owned buildings or buildings that the state leases will be required to turn out non-essential lights from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m., year-round.

Originally the bill (HB 6607) limited the Lights Out period to migration seasons — April through May, and mid-August through mid-November. But it was changed late in the process and now applies year-round. Non-essential lights are those not needed for safety or functionality. The state Capitol is exempt from the law.

Connecticut Audubon’s advocates spoke out often and forcefully about the Lights Out bill, and were an important part of the Lights Out Connecticut coalition that was responsible for its passage.

Many Connecticut Audubon members voluntarily agreed to turn out the outdoor lights on their own properties in recent weeks, and signed up for Connecticut Audubon’s Lights Out alerts, which will start again in late summer.

Birds migrate at night and are attracted to lights. As a result, many die when they crash into buildings. It’s estimated that in North America a billion birds a year die when the crash into buildings or other objects.

Horseshoe Crab Fishing Ban
The horseshoe crab fishing ban is likely to help not just horseshoe crabs but shorebirds such as endangered Red Knots, which rely on horseshoe crab eggs for food during migration. Read more about the bill here.

Five bills that Connecticut Audubon supported did not pass.

Unanimously approved in the Senate, not voted on by the House 

S.B. No. 962, An Act Concerning the Use of Certain Rodenticides

S.B. No. 963, An Act Concerning Neonicotinoids for Non-Agricultural Use


Passed the House but not voted on by the Senate 

H.B. No. 6481, An Act Concerning the Intentional Release of Certain Balloons


Made it out of committee but not voted on by either chamber 

H.B. No. 6606, An Act Concerning the Use of Certain Products Made from Polystyrene

H.B. No. 6483, An Act Concerning the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program.







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