A man wants to encourage the growth of a wild turkey population near his farm. He’s a hunter — perhaps he wants some new targets. He may even eat the wild turkeys he kills.
At any rate, he knows there’s a pack of coyotes in the area and fears the coyotes will not give the wild turkey population a chance to increase. So he baits some traps for the coyotes with beef laced with a lethal and illegal poison.
He kills some coyotes.
Some bald eagles feed on the coyote carcasses and die, too.
A passerby sees the dead bald eagles and tells the feds, who set out to discover who is responsible for illegally killing the birds. As reported by the New York Times:
With no prior criminal history, he was sentenced to two years of probation and was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.
As a convicted felon, Mr. Collier would have to give up his collection of hunting guns, a blow to his lifestyle. “We kind of got a hunting heritage in this family,” he said. “It’s what we do.”
For the sake of two dead birds our government spent thousands of dollars, and used up court and prosecutors’ time, to ruin the life of a human being. The birds have no thoughts, no plans for their life, no chosen obligations or enjoyments — and no rights. Mr. Collier was fined, humiliated, and deprived of one of the chief joys of his life because he accidentally killed some rare birds.
[I]t was not so much the felony conviction for killing two bald eagles that stung the most, and that stung plenty. It was the loss of his hunting rifles that went with it.
For his mother, June S. Collier, it was the pain of seeing her son’s name sullied in their town of roughly 5,000 people in southeastern Missouri, where the family had lived, farmed and hunted for four generations.
To all you casual environmentalists out there who believe that there “oughta be a law” to protect endangered species, is this really what you wanted? If it isn’t what you wanted, have you examined your beliefs lately?
(Cross-posted to ms. think.)