Here’s an interesting law and order premise…
A northern Idaho man takes his dogs for a walk. Since its northern Idaho, he brings a firearm with him, and shoots a wolf.
He claims the wolf was threatening to attack his dogs.
Its legal in Idaho to shoot wolves in defense of property, without a hunting license (or a wolf tag), but you gotta bring the dead wolf to the authorities after you kill it.
This guy didn’t do that.
He brought the wolf to a taxidermist, because the pelt has value.
And then he bought a tag that’s required to hunt and bag a wolf in Idaho.
The guy says he doesn’t hunt wolves, so he shouldn’t have to buy a license before shootin’ one, and bringing it to the taxidermist to harvest its pelt.
And he rejects a deal from the local prosecutor, to plead guilty and pay a 200 dollar fine. Instead, he’s ready to face a northern Idaho jury, who probably won’t convict him.
Is there any good reason to require a man to buy his tags before shooting a wolf?
Is this guy a poacher?
What makes him a poacher?
If wolf hunting is easy, and everyone bags a wolf, then the case isn’t particularly complicated. So long as he pays for the tag, it really shouldn’t matter when he pays for it.
But if its difficult to bag a wolf, then the state would lose lots of revenue, perhaps conservation dollars, if hunters were allowed to buy tags after shooting an animal. All the revenue from unsuccessful hunters that they get now would be lost.
Buying a possibility of bagging a wolf, before the hunt, is not the same as buying the certainty of bagging of wolf, after.
So this fella gotta pay a fine, equal to the difference in the value he got for his tag as compared to everyone else, who may have bought a tag but didn’t actually shoot a wolf.
How much should he be fined?
If 2 or 3 years of buying tags results in a wolf, on average, then that’s how much this guy should pay for his.
It would be more complicated if he didn’t buy a tag at all, but he did… And when he did, he agreed to pay the value of his wolf…
But his wolf is worth more than just one season’s tag. The tag isn’t a good measure of the value of an actual kill, because it includes the risk that the hunter won’t bag one.
He got one, and didn’t take the risk that everyone else takes, of not getting one.
And that could go on for years.
So he didn’t pay enough.
This brings me to the issue of fishing licenses.
I typically buy 4 or 5 different state licenses to fish, every year.
Always: New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Sometimes: Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
I have arrived on the water, to discover that my license was expired.
It happens like this, at least with annual licenses…
Some states sell a fishing license for a season. In New York, that season used to be from October 1 to September 30 of the following year.
So, if you bought your annual license in September, it was only good for a month, and you had to get a new license if you wanted to fish the new season, starting October 1.
New York just changed its regs.
Now, your license is good, 365 days from the date of purchase.
This is good for the guy who buys an annual license in September.
But its bad for those of us who know to renew our license every October, and have our fishing friends, a guide, or the guy in the fly shop remind us.
And its especially bad if you buy licenses in multiple states, and can’t remember easily when to renew.
This is problematic to me, because law enforcement is increasingly, and unfairly, being asked to do the job of raising revenue, everywhere in our society. And the easiest way of raising revenue is to create confusing rules that are enforced with fines.
Telling people to be careful isn’t the solution. If the rule is designed to create more violators, who don’t intend to violate the rule, then the rule should be changed back to the old, more expensive seasonal license.
I’d rather pay more for a license, to be sure I was in compliance with the law, than get a cheaper license that creates ambiguity, and makes up the revenue shortfall with fines that are imposed on fishermen, on the water.