Sen. Richard Blumenthal introduced a bill late last month intended, he said, to reduce the number of endangered animals killed for trophies. But it was not the first time Blumenthal had proposed a measure designed to prevent animal cruelty.
In July, Blumenthal introduced the creatively named “Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act,” in response to the killing of an African lion, named Cecil, by an American dentist.
“The hunting and poaching of endangered species is a reprehensible and repugnant act,” said Blumenthal. “The death of this beloved lion was a preventable tragedy that demonstrates the urgent need to protect precious — and all too often vulnerable — wildlife. We cannot continue to allow innocent animals to be threatened by trophy killing — we must ensure that generations to come can experience and enjoy everything nature has to offer. I am proud to join my colleagues on this measure that will provide critical protections to animals across the globe.”
African lions are not listed as threatened by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, though the FWS has proposed adding African lions to the list. Blumenthal’s bill would extend protections afforded to animals listed as threatened to those that have been proposed.
Earlier last month, Blumenthal introduced the senate version of the “Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act,” which would criminalize so-called “animal crushing.”
In an expose released last year, Salon, quoting a Miami Herald piece, said “crushing videos” involve “torturing and killing a wide variety of animals, including chickens, rabbits, and more for the sexual gratification of its viewers.”
Creation and dissemination of those videos was made illegal in 2010, a result of the “Animal Crush Video Prevention Act,” which was co-sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, and Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, among others.
That bill defines animal crush videos “as any photograph, motion picture, film, video or digital recording, or electronic image that: (1) depicts actual conduct in which one or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians is intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury; and (2) is obscene.”
Blumenthal’s proposed bill goes one step further, criminalizing the act of animal crushing itself.
In 2013, Blumenthal proposed the “Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act,” an ultimately successful attempt to make it a crime to be in attendance at a staged animal fight.
When that bill was first introduced in 2011, Scott Brown, then a Republican senator from Massachusetts, said “Animal fighting events are barbaric and cesspools of gang and other criminal activity.”
“Animal fighting is a cruel and inhumane criminal enterprise perpetuated by the spectators who fund it,” Blumenthal said then. “This bill seeks to extinguish the horrific treatment of animals and risks to public safety associated with animal fighting. Exposing innocent children to animal fighting as spectators unconscionably continues the vicious cycle of cruelty and abuse.”
A revised Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act was included in the 2014 Farm Bill, making it a felony to knowingly bring a minor under the age of 16 to a dogfight or cockfight, and a federal misdemeanor to knowingly attend a fight as a spectator.
Jordan Fenster can be reached by or @JordanFenster on Twitter.