The RAC (Regional Advisory Council) meeting for the southwestern region was held on May 6, in Richfield, Utah, to discuss and vote on whether or not a crow hunt should be allowed in Utah.
Below is an excerpt from the audio recording. You can listen to the whole meeting by clicking on the link below. There were meetings held in all the Utah regions, and the audio for all these meetings is also available.
“Wanton waste of wildlife”
Mike Staheli: Back to the crows. Because you declare them a game species, you put a limit on them, you’re going to make us remove them from the field, now is the wanton waste of wildlife issue going to also apply? In other words if you don’t want to eat them you better not shoot them, right?
Blair Stringham: Yep, yeah, exactly.
Mike Staheli: So it would apply then?
Blair Stringham: It would.
Kevin Bunnell: But not in depredation issues.
This interchange has intriguing implications. For the purpose of the proposed hunt, the crows are being declared an “upland game species.” “Wanton waste of wildlife” is a term used to describe what happens when people shoot animals and then do not eat them or use them for anything. For example, if a deer is shot, it is assumed that the hunter will take back the carcass of the deer and use it for food. Shooting the deer for no purpose at all is deemed “wanton waste of wildlife.”
This is puzzling, in terms of the proposed crow hunt, because it is commonly understood that people do not eat crows – also they are not used for trophies. It will be a requirement that hunters recover the crows after shooting them, but they won’t be using the dead crows for any purpose. They will just be dead.
Blair Stringham and Kevin Bunnell are both officers with the Division of Wildlife Services. Responding to Mike Stahelli’s question, Blair Stringam confirmed that the principle of “wanton waste of wildlife” does indeed apply to crows. In other words, they cannot be shot if they are not going to be eaten. However, the fact is that people do not eat crows. Does that mean that they cannot be shot?
Kevin Bunnell mentions a different circumstance, which is that if a farmer’s crops are being eaten by crows, this is depredation, and the farmer may kill crows that are destroying his crops. This is already entirely legal. This is not hunting; it is killing crows, and the reason for killing the crows is economic; it is not for sport. The farmer views it as a necessity related to his livelihood.
If crows eat the fruit from a farmer’s fruit trees, and then, because of that, another hunter is allowed to randomly to shoot crows in an area hundreds of miles away, where there are few farms and fewer crows — well, that doesn’t make much sense.
The puzzle is this. If crows cannot be hunted unless they are being killed for food or for trophies, and if, as we know, they are not being killed for either of these reasons, then hunting and killing them would seem to be a case of “wanton waste of wildlife,” a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of Utah law.
The words of the Utah law
To read the applicable Utah law, go to the link given below.
To those of us who are not lawyers, it is a little unclear whether or not shooting crows that are not eaten or used in any way would result in criminal charges and fines, according to Utah law. What is absolutely crystal clear, however, is that killing animals that are not eaten or used in any way is contrary to established ethics of hunting and is not a “good thing,” but rather a “bad thing” – so how would it be an “opportunity” – especially for young people wishing to learn about time-honored values and traditions of hunting?
Continued in Part Two…
To read Part Two, click here.
Top photo: ID 29289449 © Michael Elliott | Dreamstime.com
Second photo: ID 17435327 © Russiangal | Dreamstime.com
To listen to the audio of the RAC, southern region, meeting on May 6, click here.