Contact: Lawrence Cook
May 10, 2012
SOUTH WINDSOR—A bill allowing reindeer to be kept in Connecticut year round—instead of just for the month before Christmas—received final approval in the state Senate last night, and Senator Gary D. LeBeau (D-East Hartford) believes the measure will help boost sales at Christmas tree farms like the Dzen Tree Farm in South Windsor.
House Bill 5258, “An Act Permitting the Possession of Reindeer Year Round,” requires the Agriculture Department on November 1 to implement a pilot program under which two permits are issued allowing two Connecticut businesses to have up to five reindeer each. By September 1, 2013, the state must adopt regulations allowing for in-state captive herds of cervids (i. e. deer), including reindeer.
“I call this the ‘Prancer’ bill,” said state Senator Gary D. LeBeau (D-East Hartford), referring to the 1989 movie in which a little girl finds one of Santa’s injured reindeer and nurses him back to health on her farm. “Places like the Dzen Tree Farm are all about family tradition, and those traditions are maintained and enhanced with experiences like cutting your own Christmas tree, buying a wreath, and interacting with reindeer. Yes, this bill is good for business, but even more than that it’s good for the spirit.”
Current state law allows anyone to import reindeer into Connecticut between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day, but only if the reindeer are individually identified, certified to be in good health, and exported from Connecticut by January 8.
The new bill will help small business owners like John Dzen Jr., the owner of Dzen Tree Farm in South Windsor, who testified in support of the measure at its public hearing. Dzen said for many years he ‘rented’ reindeer from out of state to exhibit on his tree farm during the Christmas tree-cutting season, but that proved too costly.
“For us, just selling a good value product is not enough. Our customers want to be educated and entertained,” Dzen said regarding his 140-acre tree farm on Barber Hill Road. “There’s a big movement around the country for ‘agri-entertainment.’ This bill will help Dzen keep pushing our business to the next level. The only way we can sell more trees and attract more customers is to stay out in front of the industry. We have to stay one step ahead.”
Member: Legislative Management
Hartford, CT 06106-1591
To see more news releases by Senator LeBeau, visit our Press page (also includes releases by other Senate Democrats).
Subscribe to Senator LeBeau’s RSS news feed.