Come down hard on those who violate natureNorth Dakota has a hunting culture. It’s woven in with our farm roots. It’s generational. And sportsmanship and stewardship are twin ethics that guide the state’s hunting culture. But there’s always someone — part of that less than 1 percent — who doesn’t get it.
By: The Bismarck Tribune, The Jamestown Sun
North Dakota has a hunting culture. It’s woven in with our farm roots. It’s generational. And sportsmanship and stewardship are twin ethics that guide the state’s hunting culture.
But there’s always someone — part of that less than 1 percent — who doesn’t get it.
Hence, the need to further criminalize hunting violations in the state. The 2009 Legislature made some of the former misdemeanor penalties for hunting violations into felonies. Lawmakers used the language “exploitation of wildlife.” This is for the worst offenders. Individuals who repeatedly violate the law.
Make no mistake, these tougher penalties are justified.
Four men were convicted this year of killing more than 40 big-game animals. And in another case, owners of a lodge in the state have been forced to pay $90,000 in restitution for “guiding waterfowl hunters after clients had reached their limits, then tossing unwanted birds into pits.”
Several years ago, nine hunters were charged with illegally killing more than 30 deer.
The state finds itself amidst deer rifle season, as well as the seasons for upland birds and waterfowl. Hunters are everywhere: walking cornfields and shelterbelts, making their way up coulee and creek beds, waiting in blinds and crawling up into tree stands, all decked out in their blaze orange.
Sure, there will be minor violations, here and there, but that’s not what the changed law is about. No, it’s about gross violations. About people who throw sportsmanship and stewardship out the window, repeatedly, often for the sake of greed.
It’s true that hunting has become more and more of a business in the state. But it would be wrong to saddle blame for “exploiting wildlife” on the rural communities that have grown hunting businesses in recent years — bed and breakfasts, guide services, game farms, restaurants. The people who are involved in the hunting industry have a vested interest in the support of state game laws and wildlife management. They are on the side of wildlife.
The motivation for “exploiting wildlife” remains mostly inexplicable. Deviant. Therefore, a tougher law. Misdemeanors become Class C felonies.
Sportsmanship and stewardship, when it comes to hunting, are not hard to fathom. They apply to much of life in North Dakota and, hopefully, across the country. They are not ethics we should be willing to give up. When it comes to hunting, when wildlife becomes exploited, then stern action should be taken. The new stiffer penalties for wildlife violations do just that.