CHAPTER 490
FISHERIES AND GAME

Table of Contents

Sec. 26-6. Powers and duties of conservation officers and patrolmen.
Sec. 26-17a. Acquisition and preservation of tidal wetlands.
Sec. 26-27. Licenses required for hunting, trapping and fishing.
Sec. 26-92. Wild birds other than game birds protected, exception. Game birds defined.
Sec. 26-141a. Standards for flow of water in rivers or streams.
Sec. 26-141b. Adoption of regulations establishing flow standards for rivers and streams. Procedure.
Sec. 26-141c. Violation of regulations.
Sec. 26-157d. Lobster restoration program. Regulations.
Sec. 26-157e. Commissioner to pursue lobster restoration funds. Administration of funds. Entering into contracts.

PART II
GENERAL PROVISIONS

      Sec. 26-6. Powers and duties of conservation officers and patrolmen. (a) Conservation officers, special conservation officers and patrolmen appointed by the commissioner under authority of section 26-5, shall enforce the provisions of title 23 and this title and chapters 246, 247, 248, 255 and 268 and regulations adopted pursuant to such titles and chapters and sections 15-180, 22a-250, 26-192c to 26-192h, inclusive, 29-28, 29-35, 29-38, 53-134, 53-190, 53-191, 53-194, 53-203, 53-204, 53-205, 53a-59 to 53a-64, inclusive, 53a-100 to 53a-117a, inclusive, subsection (b) of section 53a-119b, 53a-122 to 53a-125, inclusive, 53a-130, 53a-133 to 53a-136, inclusive, 53a-147 to 53a-149, inclusive, 53a-157b, 53a-165 to 53a-167c, inclusive, 53a-171, 53a-181 to 53a-183a, inclusive, 54-33d and 54-33e.

      (b) Conservation officers, special conservation officers and patrolmen may, without warrant, arrest any person for any violation of any of the provisions set forth in subsection (a) of this section, and any full-time conservation officer shall, in the performance of his duties in any part of the state, have the same powers to enforce such laws as do policemen or constables in their respective jurisdictions. Any full-time conservation officer shall, incident to a lawful arrest while enforcing such laws in the performance of his duties in any part of the state, have the same powers with respect to criminal matters and the enforcement of the law relating thereto as policemen or constables have in their respective jurisdictions.

      (c) Any conservation officer, special conservation officer or patrolman may, anywhere within the boundaries of the state, examine the contents of any boat, ship, automobile or other vehicle, box, locker, basket, creel, crate, game bag or game coat or other package in which he has probable cause to believe that any fish, crustacean, bird or quadruped is being kept, in violation of any said statutory provisions or any regulation issued by the commissioner, or any regulation issued by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as provided by section 26-91, and to ascertain whether any provision of any law or any regulation for the protection of any fish, crustacean, bird or quadruped has been or is being violated, and, shall have the same authority as police officers to obtain and execute search warrants as provided for in sections 54-33a, 54-33b and 54-33c.

      (d) Any conservation officer, special conservation officer or patrolman, may be appointed a special policeman under the provisions of section 29-18.

      (e) The Commissioner of Environmental Protection is authorized to assign one or more conservation officers to patrol and inspect the buildings, lands and waters owned by The White Memorial Foundation, Incorporated, located in the towns of Litchfield and Morris and, in addition to their powers as conservation officers, such officers may be appointed special policemen under the provisions of section 29-18.

      (f) Each conservation officer, special conservation officer or patrolman shall be sworn to the faithful performance of his duties.

      (1949 Rev., S. 4866; 1955, June, 1955, S. 2458d; 1971, P.A. 233; 871, S. 101; 872, S. 211; P.A. 74-245, S. 2; P.A. 75-567, S. 68, 80; P.A. 80-341, S. 2; P.A. 81-227, S. 2; P.A. 87-589, S. 47, 87; P.A. 89-321, S. 9, 12; P.A. 90-173, S. 10; P.A. 91-402; P.A. 96-180, S. 95, 166; P.A. 00-99, S. 69, 154; P.A. 03-136, S. 7; P.A. 05-234, S. 11.)

      History: 1971 acts specified that law enforcement powers of full-time conservation officers are same as those of sheriffs, policemen or constables, replaced reference to Secs. 53-108, 53-110, 53-118 and 53-123 with reference to Secs. 53a-109 and 53a-115 to 53a-117 and replaced references to board of fisheries and game and its director with references to environmental protection commissioner; P.A. 74-245 divided section into Subsecs., listed statutes which conservation officers and patrolmen have power to enforce in greater detail than previously and made technical changes for clarity; P.A. 75-567 substituted Sec. 22a-27d for Sec. 53-51 in Subsec. (a), reflecting its transfer; P.A. 80-341 added reference to Subsec. (b) of Sec. 53a-119b in Subsec. (a); P.A. 81-227 amended Subsec. (a) by expanding the authority of conservation officers to enforce provisions of chapters on motor vehicles, litter, firearms and bribery of public servants and amended Subsec. (b) by granting conservation officers same authority as police officers to obtain and execute search warrants, replacing provision granting them power to search buildings, dwellings, trailers and tents with a search warrant; P.A. 87-589 substituted reference to Sec. 53a-183a for reference to Sec. 53a-183 in Subsec. (a); P.A. 89-321 added references to Secs. 26-192c to 26-192h, inclusive, (formerly Secs. 19a-96 to 19a-101); P.A. 90-173 proposed to amend Subsec. (a) to add reference to Secs. 15-171 to 15-175, inclusive, but said Secs. included in existing reference to chapter 268 and the wording remains the same; P.A. 91-402 amended Subsec. (b) to add provision granting full-time conservation officers, incident to a lawful arrest while enforcing the laws set forth in Subsec. (a), the same powers with respect to criminal matters and the enforcement of the law relating thereto as sheriffs, policemen or constables have in their respective jurisdictions, and divided Subsec. (b) into Subsecs. (b) and (c) and relettered the remaining Subsecs. accordingly; P.A. 96-180 amended Subsec. (e) to change "Said commissioner" to "The Commissioner of Environmental Protection", effective June 3, 1996; P.A. 00-99 deleted references to sheriffs in Subsec. (b), effective December 1, 2000; P.A. 03-136 amended Subsec. (a) to include reference to Sec. 15-180, effective June 26, 2003; P.A. 05-234 amended Subsec. (a) to replace reference to sections "53a-100 to 53a-117, inclusive" with "53a-100 to 53a-117a, inclusive", effective January 1, 2006.

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      Sec. 26-17a. Acquisition and preservation of tidal wetlands. (a) For the purposes of this section, "tidal wetlands" means any land contiguous with, adjacent to or adjoining waters which are subject to tidal action at any time. The Department of Environmental Protection shall establish a program for the protection, preservation, acquisition and improvement of the tidal wetlands of the state.

      (b) The Commissioner of Environmental Protection may, by purchase, exchange, condemnation, gift, devise, lease or otherwise, acquire tidal wetlands or any easements, interests or rights therein, or enter into covenants and agreements with owners of such tidal wetlands to maintain, improve, protect, limit the future use of or otherwise conserve such tidal wetlands. The commissioner may also enter into leases with an option to buy tidal wetlands, provided the term of any such lease shall not exceed ten years.

      (c) The commissioner is authorized to take land or any interests therein by right of eminent domain in the manner provided in section 48-12 for the purposes for which he is authorized to acquire land under the provisions of subsection (b) of this section. All of the owners of different tracts of land which are included in the same tidal wetlands area may be joined in the same action.

      (d) When the municipal property tax on any tidal wetlands is unpaid for a period of six years, the tax collector of the municipality in which such tidal wetlands are located shall notify the Commissioner of Environmental Protection. Said commissioner may direct the municipality to take title to such tidal wetlands by foreclosure of its tax liens and, upon payment to the municipality of a sum equal to the amount of the tax liens foreclosed and the expenses incurred by it in the foreclosure action, the municipality shall convey title of said wetlands to the state.

      (1967, P.A. 536, S. 1-5; 1971, P.A. 872, S. 221; P.A. 05-288, S. 116.)

      History: 1971 act replaced department of agriculture and natural resources with department of environmental protection; P.A. 05-288 made a technical change in Subsec. (c), effective July 13, 2005.

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PART III
LICENSES AND PERMITS

      Sec. 26-27. Licenses required for hunting, trapping and fishing. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), (c), (e) or (f) of this section and other provisions of this chapter providing specific license exemption, no person shall take, hunt or trap, or shall attempt to take, hunt or trap, or assist in taking, hunting or trapping, any wild bird or mammal and no person more than sixteen years of age shall take, attempt to take, or assist in taking any fish or bait species in the inland waters by any method, without first having obtained a license as provided in this chapter. No person under sixteen years of age shall hunt or trap, except as provided in section 26-38.

      (b) Any landowner who has a domiciliary residence in this state, his spouse or lineal descendants may hunt, trap or fish on land owned by him or on land leased by him and on which he is actually domiciled, which land is not used for club, fishing or hunting purposes, without a license, subject to the provisions of this chapter.

      (c) No fishing license shall be required for any person who is rowing a boat or operating the motor of a boat from which other persons are taking or attempting to take fish.

      (d) The taking of fish and bait species as herein provided shall be regarded as sport fishing and the taking of such species in the inland waters by commercial methods for commercial purposes shall be governed by other provisions of this chapter.

      (e) No fishing license shall be required for any resident of the state who is participating in a fishing derby authorized in writing by the Commissioner of Environmental Protection provided (1) no fees are charged for such derby, (2) such derby has a duration of one day or less and (3) such derby is sponsored by a nonprofit civic service organization. Such organization shall be limited to one derby in any calendar year.

      (f) The Commissioner of Environmental Protection may designate one day in each calendar year when no license shall be required for sport fishing.

      (1949 Rev., S. 4868; 1957, P.A. 348, S. 1; 1967, P.A. 71, S. 1; 1971, P.A. 148; P.A. 76-131, S. 1, 2; P.A. 81-298, S. 1, 9; P.A. 82-366, S. 2; P.A. 83-191, S. 1, 9; P.A. 85-53, S. 3; P.A. 87-30, S. 1, 2; P.A. 05-288, S. 117.)

      History: 1967 act deleted prohibition in Subsec. (a) against persons under sixteen trapping without a license; 1971 act prohibited attempting to take, hunt or trap birds or quadrupeds and attempting to take fish or bait species in Subsec. (a); P.A. 76-131 added Subsec. (e) re exemption from licensing requirements for participants in fishing derbies; P.A. 81-298 substituted "sixteen years of age or over" for "over sixteen years" in Subsec. (a) provision requiring license to hunt, trap or fish and prohibited trapping as well as hunting by those under sixteen except as provided in Sec. 26-38; P.A. 82-366 amended Subsec. (a) to be consistent with new license categories established by Sec. 26-27a; P.A. 83-191 amended Subsec. (a) to exempt persons under sixteen years of age from the requirement of a fishing license; P.A. 85-53 substituted "mammal" for "quadruped" in Subsec. (a); P.A. 87-30 added Subsec. (f) authorizing the commissioner to designate a free fishing day; P.A. 05-288 made a technical change in Subsec. (a), effective July 13, 2005.

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PART VI
BIRDS

      Sec. 26-92. Wild birds other than game birds protected, exception. Game birds defined. No person shall catch, kill or purchase or attempt to catch, kill or purchase, sell, offer or expose for sale or have in possession, living or dead, any wild bird other than a game bird, or purchase or attempt to purchase, sell, offer or expose for sale or have in possession any part of any such bird or of the plumage thereof except as acquired under the provisions of this chapter. For the purposes of this section, the following shall be considered game birds: The anatidae, or waterfowl, including brant, wild ducks and geese; the rallidae, or rails, including coots, gallinules and sora and other rails; the limicolae, or shore birds, including snipe and woodcock; the gallinae, including wild turkeys, grouse, prairie chickens, pheasants, partridge and quail; the corvidae, including crows. No person shall take or destroy any nest or any egg of any wild bird or game bird. No person shall possess any nest or egg of any wild or game bird. English sparrows, starlings and, when found depredating ornamental trees, agriculture crops, livestock or wildlife, or when concentrated in such numbers as to constitute a public health or public safety hazard, crows, rock doves, monk parakeets and brown-headed cowbirds shall not be included among the birds protected by this section. Any conservation officer and any other officer having authority to serve criminal process shall have the same powers relating to violations of the provisions of this section as are conferred by section 26-6.

      (1949 Rev., S. 4916; 1951, S. 2504d; 1963, P.A. 509; P.A. 78-97; P.A. 03-192, S. 8; P.A. 04-109, S. 16; P.A. 05-288, S. 118.)

      History: 1963 act deleted from list of game birds "the columbidae, including the mourning dove but excluding the street pigeon"; P.A. 78-97 forbade "attempts" to catch, kill or purchase prohibited birds and revised list, deleting "the gruidae, or cranes, including little brown, sandhill and whooping cranes", "avocets, curlews, dowitchers, godwits, knots, oyster catchers, phalaropes, plovers, sandpipers", "stilts, surf birds, turnstones, willet", "yellow-legs", and "when destroying poultry, hawks" and clarified treatment of crows; P.A. 03-192 expanded exception to protection of wild bird or game bird to include crows, rock doves, monk parakeets and brown-headed cowbirds when found depredating ornamental trees, agriculture crops, livestock or wildlife or when constituting a public health or safety hazard, replaced "needlessly destroy" with "destroy" re nest or egg of wild bird or game bird and made technical and conforming changes; P.A. 04-109 made a technical change, effective May 21, 2004; P.A. 05-288 made a technical change, effective July 13, 2005.

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PART VIII
SPORT FISHING

      Sec. 26-141a. Standards for flow of water in rivers or streams. Whenever any dam or other structure is maintained in this state which impounds, or diverts, the waters of a river or stream or which dam or other structure affects the flow of water in such a river or stream, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection may adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, setting forth standards concerning the flow of such water in accordance with section 26-141b.

      (1971, P.A. 229, S. 1; 872, S. 441; P.A. 05-142, S. 1.)

      History: Later 1971 act replaced state board of fisheries and game and water resources commission with commissioner of environmental protection; P.A. 05-142 removed references to stocked rivers or streams and made technical changes.

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      Sec. 26-141b. Adoption of regulations establishing flow standards for rivers and streams. Procedure. The Commissioner of Environmental Protection shall, on or before December 31, 2006, and after consultation and cooperation with the Department of Public Health, the Department of Public Utility Control, an advisory group convened by the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, and any other agency, board or commission of the state with which said commissioner shall deem it advisable to consult and after recognizing and providing for the needs and requirements of public health, flood control, industry, public utilities, water supply, public safety, agriculture and other lawful uses of such waters and further recognizing and providing for stream and river ecology, the requirements of natural aquatic life, natural wildlife and public recreation, and after considering the natural flow of water into an impoundment or diversion, and being reasonably consistent therewith, shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, establishing flow regulations for all river and stream systems. Such flow regulations shall: (1) Apply to all river and stream systems within this state; (2) preserve and protect the natural aquatic life, including anadromous fish, contained within such waters; (3) preserve and protect the natural and stocked wildlife dependent upon the flow of such water; (4) promote and protect the usage of such water for public recreation; (5) be based, to the maximum extent practicable, on natural variation of flows and water levels while providing for the needs and requirements of public health, flood control, industry, public utilities, water supply, public safety, agriculture and other lawful uses of such waters; and (6) be based on the best available science, including, but not limited to, natural aquatic habitat, biota, subregional basin boundaries, areas of stratified drift, stream gages and flow data, locations of registered, permitted, and proposed diversions and withdrawal data reported pursuant to section 22a-368a, locations where any dams or other structures impound or divert the waters of a river or stream and any release made therefrom, and any other data for developing such regulations or individual management plans. Such flow regulations may provide special conditions or exemptions including, but not limited to, an extreme economic hardship or other circumstance, an agricultural diversion, a water quality certification related to a license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or as necessary to allow a public water system, as defined in subsection (a) of section 25-33d, to comply with the obligations of such system as set forth in the regulations of Connecticut state agencies. Any flow management plan contained in a resolution, agreement or stipulated judgment to which the state, acting through the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, is a party, or the management plan developed pursuant to section 3 of public act 00-152*, is exempt from any such flow regulations. Flow regulations that were adopted pursuant to this section and sections 26-141a and 26-141c prior to October 1, 2005, shall remain in effect until the Commissioner of Environmental Protection adopts new regulations pursuant to this section.

      (1971, P.A. 229, S. 2; 872, S. 442; P.A. 75-486, S. 59, 69; P.A. 77-614, S. 162, 323, 610; P.A. 80-482, S. 184, 348; P.A. 93-381, S. 9, 39; P.A. 95-257, S. 12, 21, 58; P.A. 05-142, S. 2.)

      *Note: Section 3 of public act 00-152 is special in nature and therefore has not been codified but remains in full force and effect according to its terms.

      History: Later 1971 act replaced state board of fisheries and game and water resources commission with commissioner of environmental protection; P.A. 75-486 replaced public utilities commission with public utilities control authority; P.A. 77-614 replaced public utilities control authority with division of public utility control within the department of business regulation and replaced department of health with department of health services, effective January 1, 1979; P.A. 80-482 made division of public utility control an independent department and deleted reference to abolished department of business regulation; P.A. 93-381 replaced department of health services with department of public health and addiction services, effective July 1, 1993; P.A. 95-257 replaced Commissioner and Department of Public Health and Addiction Services with Commissioner and Department of Public Health, effective July 1, 1995; P.A. 05-142 changed deadline for adopting regulations from July 1, 1973, to December 31, 2006, required Commissioner of Environmental Protection to convene an advisory group with which to consult prior to adopting the regulations, added "public safety, agriculture and other lawful uses of such waters" to list of considerations, added "natural" re aquatic life, replaced language re thirty days' notice with reference to chapter 54, deleted references to "standards", "instantaneous minimum" and stocked rivers and streams, amended Subdiv. (5) to add requirement re regulations based on natural variation of flows and water levels, added Subdiv. (6) re regulations based on best available science, added allowance for special conditions or exemptions, and preserved existing flow management plans and regulations.

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      Sec. 26-141c. Violation of regulations. After the adoption of regulations pursuant to section 26-141b, no person or municipality, as defined in section 22a-423, shall maintain any dam or structure impounding or diverting water within this state except in accordance with regulations as established by the Commissioner of Environmental Protection. If the commissioner finds that any person or municipality, as defined in section 22a-423, is violating such regulations, the commissioner shall issue an order to such person or municipality to comply with the regulations. The order shall include a time schedule for the accomplishment of the necessary steps leading to compliance. If such person, or municipality fails thereafter to comply with the regulations concerning flow of water, the commissioner may request the Attorney General to bring an action in the Superior Court to enjoin such person or municipality from restricting the flow of such water in accordance with such regulations.

      (1971, P.A. 229, S. 3; 872, S. 443; P.A. 05-142, S. 3.)

      History: Later 1971 act replaced water resources commission with commissioner of environmental protection; P.A. 05-142 replaced references to "standards" with references to "regulations", replaced references to "firm or corporation" with references to "municipality", and made technical changes.

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PART IX
COMMERCIAL FISHERIES

      Sec. 26-157d. Lobster restoration program. Regulations. (a) The Department of Environmental Protection shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, to establish a lobster restoration program to restore lobster spawning stock by increasing lobster egg production by providing that mature female lobsters landed by commercial methods be marked with a v-shaped notch in the tail, released and protected from future harvest.

      (b) Subject to the provisions of subsections (c) and (d) of this section, each person engaged in commercial fishing who lands, marks and releases lobsters and who reports such landing, marking and releasing pursuant to section 26-157b shall be compensated, if funds become available, at average market value, as determined by the commissioner, for each lobster released.

      (c) The Commissioner of Environmental Protection may select a contractor, in accordance with the provisions of the general statutes and department procedures, to implement the provisions of the program established pursuant to subsection (a) of this section. The department shall not be responsible for the training, insurance or supervision of employees of the contractor. The contractor shall be compensated by the department on a per trip basis and not per lobster. Employees of the contractor shall accompany persons engaged in commercial fishing who participate in the program and only such employees shall mark each lobster. Such persons engaged in commercial fishing shall not mark the lobsters and shall not be employed by the contractor to mark lobsters for fishing trips during which such persons are participating in the program.

      (d) The program established pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall (1) be limited to state residents licensed to participate in commercial fishing by the department pursuant to this title, (2) require that fishermen and employees of the contractor sign a statement certifying the number of lobsters landed, marked and released for purposes of the program for each trip, (3) require such fishermen and contractor to collect and submit to the department all information deemed necessary by the department to verify compliance with the program, (4) require that all lobsters landed, marked and released for purposes of the program be allocated to the fishermen as catch for purposes of any other lobster management program under the jurisdiction of the state or federal government, and (5) provide that each participant in the program be selected based on the area fished, seasonal nature of such fishing and volume of landings by such participant prior to such participant's application to the program.

      (P.A. 05-281, S. 1.)

      History: P.A. 05-281 effective July 13, 2005.

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      Sec. 26-157e. Commissioner to pursue lobster restoration funds. Administration of funds. Entering into contracts. The Commissioner of Environmental Protection shall do all things necessary to apply for, qualify for and accept any federal or state funds made available or allotted under any federal or state act for the restoration of lobster stock, or any other federal or state acts, projects, programs or activities related thereto. The commissioner shall administer any such funds allotted to the commissioner in accordance with federal law and the law of this state. The commissioner may enter into contracts with the federal government or any state government concerning the use, maintenance and repayment of such funds under any such federal or state act.

      (P.A. 05-281, S. 2.)

      History: P.A. 05-281 effective July 1, 2005.

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