Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has signed every bill he plans to this year. Among the group of bills-made-laws signed Friday is one that will make Santa Claus very happy.
Public act 12-127
is intended to "authorize establishment of in-state captive herds of cervids, including, but not limited to, reindeer."
At the start of the Environment Committee's public hearing on the bill
, Chairman Sen. Ed Meyer noted the committee's tasks for the day: "We're taking up taxes, reindeer, bamboo, and biting dogs. So it's just a remarkable agenda," he said.
Rep. William Aman explained later in the meeting why the bill was important, "a serious issue for one of my constituents":
Up to early around 2000 reindeer were allowed to be brought into this state. They weren't regulated. Chronic wasting disease is a very, very terrible disease. I was worried at that time, around the early 2000's, that it was spreading rapidly through native deer around the country, and in so the importation of any type of deer was stopped or severely eliminated, not only in Connecticut, but around the rest of the country.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the bill had its origins in economic distress. John Dzen, Jr., owner of Dzen Tree Farm, which has about 100 acres of "choose and cut your own Christmas trees in South Windsor," said "Our business like many agricultural businesses in Connecticut is becoming more dependent on the theme of agri-entertainment. In years past we have rented reindeer for the month of December for their educational and entertainment value to our customers. The price of a one-month rental meets or exceeds the cost of year round animal care. If we owned reindeer there were would be other opportunities to use them to produce income."
So get ready, Connecticut. Christmas will be considerably more authentic this year. As Dzen told the committee, don't expect lone reindeer wandering around.
"Reindeer are pack animals, so it's not possible to have one. Starting on a small scale would be two," he said.