STATES HAVE WEIRD WILDLIFE LAWS
boys in Canada were reportedly killed recently by a large escaped python
that had entered a room where they were sleeping. Exactly how regulations
about keeping giant snakes as pets or releasing them into the wild will
ultimately be structured in Canada and the United States remains to
be seen. But don't think that the laws will necessarily ensure prevention
of such regrettable incidents in the future. Laws, after all, are made
by politicians. And politicians often have agendas, hidden and otherwise,
and sometimes, apparently, just don't think things through.
may not have the strangest state wildlife law to be found around the
country, but it has one that really needs to change. To keep or transport
native species of lizards or snakes is illegal. But wait, we have an
exception. Georgia law allows an individual to keep venomous snakes.
Yes, it is perfectly legal to keep a rattlesnake or copperhead in your
living room, but not if a harmless garter snake is in the cage with
it. What kind of misguided foolishness is this?
Of no surprise,
Georgia is not alone in having odd wildlife laws. In California you
can catch and possess "any number of live frogs to use in frog-jumping
contests," but if a frog dies "it ... may not be eaten or
otherwise used for any purpose." Not sure what other "purpose"
one might have in mind for a dead frog, but maybe California legislators
know something the rest of us don't. Also, how many frog-jumping contests
does the Golden State have outside of the Jumping Frog Jubilee in Calaveras
County? State legislators apparently repealed another law about wildlife
- one that prohibited the capture of diamondback terrapins. Too bad,
because that was a law all Californians would have found easy to obey.
Diamondback terrapins are found only in salt marshes and estuaries along
the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
or inexplicable state laws may also have been repealed in moments of
legislative sanity, but many odd laws are still on the books. Kansas
will let you possess up to five reptiles or amphibians without a permit,
and a list of 14 permissible capture techniques for amphibians is given.
Firearms are allowed, with the exception of "fully automatic weapons."
Talk about taking the sport out of frog hunting. But they have not taken
all the fun out of frog hunting. You are still allowed to use deadfalls,
crossbows, poisonous gas, and dogs. I wonder how many dogs return safely
from frog-hunting expeditions in Kansas.
has no native terrestrial reptiles and amphibians. So, rather than list
species that are illegal to catch, Hawaii lists hundreds that cannot
be brought in without permits. Possessing any snake in Hawaii is illegal,
with one exception. Zoos are permitted to have two of each nonvenomous
species. But both must be males! No fun being a snake in Hawaii.
and amphibians have clearly been an afterthought for many state legislatures.
And some laws have clearly been passed for a particular situation that
was important to one lawmaker and inconsequential to others. Sometimes
laws are written in a certain way simply for convenience. For example,
Alaska has lots of hunting and fishing laws in place. Thus, to make
things simple, a law was passed that all Alaskan amphibians are by definition
"fish," even when they live on land. Under that regulation,
taking a toad from Juneau to Fairbanks would require an Alaskan fish
transport permit. Meanwhile, Louisiana must think alligators are mammals.
No alligator skin may be sold without a fur buyer's license or tanned
without a fur dealer's license.
the absurdity of some laws, many state regulations do indeed protect
wildlife while letting people acquire and keep animals, including having
them as pets. Let's hope that when regulations about keeping giant pythons
as pets are put in place - as they surely will be - the lawmakers use
some plain old common sense.
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