What do you think?
Should crippled birds count toward your daily bag limit, even if you made every effort to retrieve it?
Carrie Wilson, a marine biologist and spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), claims “ethical hunters” always count crippled birds toward their bag limits because it’s the right thing to do “even when they think no one’s looking.” She contends that the regulations are silent on the matter.
As a lawyer and avid hunter, I respectfully disagree. Here’s why.
The regulations address this issue head on. Under federal law, to “bag” a bird means that it has been reduced to the hunter’s possession. A “daily bag limit” is the maximum number of birds or species of birds allowed to be taken per day in a particular area. Under California law, a “bag and possession limit” is the daily bag limit that “may be taken and possessed by any one person unless otherwise authorized.”
One might argue that I’m focusing on the law and ignoring ethics, but the law also addresses the only ethical issue I see here. Under federal and California law, it’s illegal (and in my opinion, unethical) to sail a bird and neglect to make a “reasonable effort” to find it. In fact, nothing get’s my blood boiling more than seeing hunter’s crip birds and not look for them.
Most everyone has heard the saying, “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.” Crippled birds can be extremely difficult–if not impossible–to locate. Ethical hunters do the best they can to find them. That’s one reason I always take along my Labrador Retriever.