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gunfun

Washington law question

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Hey guys. I know how much legal advise from the internets is worth, but it can help to have a starting point.

 

A couple of days ago I was driving down highway 12 at night near Rimrock, and hit an elk.

It was laying injured in the road, panting.

 

I wanted to end its suffering and drag it the rest of the way clear of the road. I don't like for things to suffer and I sure am not going to grab a wounded animal and drag it. That seems like a good way to get hurt.

 

I had a pistol and all, largely for the potential of this situation I mostly got the CPL for running around in the woods, and trips.

The thing that stopped me was legality... Is it illegal to shoot a wounded elk? I know that it is generally illegal to shoot on, from or across roads too... Are there exceptions?

 

Anyway if someone actually knows rather than opines, that would be helpful. Are there any people in LE in WA here, or work with DOT or who ever gets to clear away the roadkill?

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You legally cannot shoot the animal due to the RCW's here in Washington, however you should call the local dispatch (911) and sometimes they can give permission due to length of time for a LEO response. 99% of the time they will say no, because of people who actually try to hit game animals for the meat. If you do shoot the animal it will depend on the responding LEO's attitude as to what happens. Most would understand but you are putting yourself at risk for anything from a citation to getting a pair of bracelets and a free ride in the back of a patrol car. The response can be very geographic, IE Lincoln County versus King County,East side versus wet side and by agency. So I would not do it, at least until I talked to a dispatcher and got their name and position number and who they are relaying to permission from, agency, officer etc.

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I'm not necessarily recommending you do this, but I will go ahead and put the animal down if I can do so safely. I'm not sure exactly what the law states and I don't much care. I'll defend my actions in court, if necessary. I carry a pistol in my vehicle loaded with Glaser safety slugs which have worked pretty well the two times I have done this.

 

I will add just one thing. You have to be smart about it and consider the entire scene. How remote or populated is the immediate area? How much, if any, is the animal suffering? Am I putting anyone else in danger? I'll consider those kind of things rather than legal technicalities. But that's just me.

Edited by DogMan
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You legally cannot shoot the animal due to the RCW's here in Washington, however you should call the local dispatch (911) and sometimes they can give permission due to length of time for a LEO response. 99% of the time they will say no, because of people who actually try to hit game animals for the meat. If you do shoot the animal it will depend on the responding LEO's attitude as to what happens. Most would understand but you are putting yourself at risk for anything from a citation to getting a pair of bracelets and a free ride in the back of a patrol car. The response can be very geographic, IE Lincoln County versus King County,East side versus wet side and by agency. So I would not do it, at least until I talked to a dispatcher and got their name and position number and who they are relaying to permission from, agency, officer etc.

 

He is correct I live in Pa and saw someone hit a deer when i stopped it was still alive. I told the guy who hit it that i had my CCw and could put it down he said that I should not because he had a friend who did that and was actually arrested so I let him call 911 and have the local LEO waste his time by coming out and doing it

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If a tree falls in the woods. ..

and no one is around...

dose it still make a sound?

 

Depends if your 'tree' has a suppressor. ;-)

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Last time I knew of anyone putting down a car-struck critter, it was some Forest Service employees that had to use a fire-fighter's Polaski...

 

I would try to call 911 first, and request permission to put the animal out of its misery (not to mention report the accident, it's impossible NOT to acquire $500 worth of damage if you hit a critter).

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hey guys. It looks like everyone is posting opinions not links to statutes or publications from fish and game or whatever. I'm not disrespecting your opinions or anything, I was just hoping someone had something more solid. Hopefully I will have the spare time to do a search in the law library soon. When I do I will let you know.

 

Mr. Kenney, I am pretty sure WA law requires you to report everything over $700. In my case, my car is 11 years old and looked fine, but has a rebuilt title. I had 3 elk sprinting across the road 60-80 feet in front of me after dusk. There was condensation onthe road, and they came from behind some bushes that went right up to the edge, so I didn't have warning to slow. I breaked instantly, locked a little, let off enough to not lock, then more to have better steering. There was a gap almost as wide as my car between 2 of them, so I went in between them now at about 20 MPH, clearing the one on the driver's side, and clipping the one on the passenger. It only hit the outermost 8-10" of my car. It cracked/tore my bumbper skin and bent the fender. The turn signal light is shattered, and there are dings on both doors and the rocker panel. I suppose if I took the car to a body shop, it would cost more than that to bring it up to factory, but it will cost me about $30 for a signal lens, and a weekend of hassle. I don't know if a car of similar age to mine would be diminished in value by $700 or not. I figure a running car like mine is worth about the same ugly or pretty, so I opted not to report it. I am not 100% certain whether WA law goes by repair estimate or actual repair cost. I don't think I broke the law though. I don't think my phone had service around there anyway. I can't afford a new car, and I don't know what an insurance company would say my car is worth. They have to call a car totaled if the repair estimate is >than 50% of the repair estimate from a shop. If the body work and paint came to over a grand I would be out of a car. That's cutting it pretty close. It would cost me a lot more than the estimated value of my car to replace it with one as reliable, and I won't have much income for the next 3 years. I made a judgement call, and think I am on the legal side.

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RCW 77.15.410

 

Unlawful hunting of big game — Penalty.

 

 

*** CHANGE IN 2011 *** (SEE 1340.SL) ***

 

(1) A person is guilty of unlawful hunting of big game in the second degree if the person:

 

(a) Hunts for, takes, or possesses big game and the person does not have and possess all licenses, tags, or permits required under this title;

 

(B) Violates any rule of the commission or director regarding seasons, bag or possession limits, closed areas including game reserves, closed times, or any other rule governing the hunting, taking, or possession of big game; or

 

© Possesses big game taken during a closed season for that big game or taken from a closed area for that big game.

 

(2) A person is guilty of unlawful hunting of big game in the first degree if the person was previously convicted of any crime under this title involving unlawful hunting, killing, possessing, or taking big game, and within five years of the date that the prior conviction was entered the person:

 

(a) Hunts for big game and does not have and possess all licenses, tags, or permits required under this title;

 

(B) Acts in violation of any rule of the commission or director regarding seasons, bag or possession limits, closed areas including game reserves, or closed times; or

 

© Possesses big game taken during a closed season for that big game or taken from a closed area for that big game.

 

(3)(a) Unlawful hunting of big game in the second degree is a gross misdemeanor. Upon conviction of an offense involving killing or possession of big game taken during a period of time when hunting for the particular species is not permitted, or in excess of the bag or possession limit, the department shall revoke all hunting licenses and tags and order a suspension of hunting privileges for two years.

 

(B) Unlawful hunting of big game in the first degree is a class C felony. Upon conviction, the department shall revoke all hunting licenses or tags and the department shall order the person's hunting privileges suspended for ten years.

 

Here ya go. The law is clear that if you shoot a big game animal without the required licenses or tags you are breaking the law, period. It gives NO exceptions to the law. As it was an Elk and around elk season if a Fish and Game Officer found the animal after you had shot it they would do a full investigation and collect evidence.

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Thanks Mr. Patrick. I think I will check the annotated code for affirmative defenses later. That still leaves the highway issue.

 

I think I made the right legal choice, but the wrong practical choice. It sucks when laws don't coincide with reason, such as making killing an elk a felony and pounding your wife into the ground a Class C Misdemeanor, but I guess the WA state legislature just has to decide what really matters.

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Your welcome Mr. Gunfun. I agree with you about right legal choice and wrong pratical choice btw.

 

As a side rant, the state of Washignton in the last couple of years has lowered penaties for crimes and dropped supervision of parolees to approximately half of what it was three years ago. More repeat offenders are getting out of prision with no supervision and alot of offenders know that all they are going to get for new crimes, if they get caught, is a slap on the wrist. They have already closed three prisions and are looking at others to possibly close. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside...

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I just called a friend who works out of the Ephrata Fish and Game office and he stated that in his area if you hit an animal they do not care if you put it out of it's misery as long as they are called and told. You cannot take the meat or rack from the animal. When they get to the animal it had better have had a major injury. He went on to say that depending on the geographic area of the state and what you hit (ie coyote, deer, elk) and who gets to the accident site first will determine what occurrs. I asked what best practice would be and he said "Call your local fish and game office and ask first to cover your self and if after hours all cell phone 911 calls go to WSP and they can also give permission". On the legality of dispatching a wounded animal he did say that technically it is illegal to discharge a firearm from any road and that if you don't have a license or tags you could be cited or arrested depending on the officer for either or both. He made several comments about geographic/office practices not matching, so... it's kinda a gray area depending on where the incident occurrs...

Edited by Patrick24601

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Go with the choice that let's you sleep better at night. If you're making a good faith effort to do the right thing and you do it safely I'd be absolutely shocked if you were even arrested, let alone convicted of anything.

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Thanks for the info Patrick. -that pretty much matches my expectation.

 

I was up in the hills late at night. I doubt my cell would have worked at all, but I didn't happen to have the non emergency number for WSP or fish and wild life handy either.

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make sure you are wearing hunter orange.

or carry a Machete

 

seriously, I would not trust anyone on the phone giving you permission.

the proplem is that if it were legal then there would be idiots shooting possums

in downtown seattle with 500 S&W's

 

this is the only thing I found that is close.

 

http://wdfw.wa.gov/h...tion_ethics.pdf

 

#2

Edited by read_the_wall

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if it were legal then there would be idiots shooting possums

in downtown seattle with 500 S&W's

 

 

I'd actually like to see that.

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