Sunday, May 13, 2007

Tree Farm Owner Convicted in Deer Killing

We blogged this issue last December, but here's a brief refresher. Kevin Kelly, owner of a tree farm near Tipton, Iowa decided he'd provided the last free lunch a wandering whitetail deer would ever have, and shot it out of season.

Kelly relied on a 1915 case as support for the proposition that he could kill the deer for having the audacity to want to eat lunch on his property.

The DNR was not amused at being put to its proof and Kelly was charged with killing a deer out of season. He asserted his defense of necessity, but was convicted by a Cedar County jury because he could not point to specific trees that had been damaged by the wandering critters, whose only crime was hunger. Kelly was fined $100 for taking a deer out of season, another hundred for using a rifle, and assessed a levy of $1,500 to replace the deer.

Kelly remains unrepentant, and John Carlson of the Register remains sympathetic.

I'm in mind of the laws of old Europe that would jail or execute people for picking up deadfalls in the king's forest to heat their huts or cook their grub. Remarking on the injustice of this was enough to get a young Prussian lawyer named Karl Marx kicked out of the country, and thereby hangs a tale.

However, if Kelly had asked this former prosecutor about what he was fixing on doing, I would have told him this.

The usual arguments about "I wuz just shooting coyotes" don't work.

Poachers, idlers, and takers of game and fish out of season never win their arguments except at the tavern and across the kitchen table.

As an assistant county attorney it was my duty to prosecute DNR violations in Madison County while I worked there. I took great pleasure in it. I probably have prosecuted more short bass tickets than anyone around, and my record on prosecuting using a shooting range after sunset is 100 per cent.

It's simple. You break the law, you get punished, especially if you're trying to rub the DNR's nose in something.

And as any Lucas County farmer will tell you, the first six rows are for the deer anyway.


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