People killed off the biggest mammals, and we’re still doing it

Human hunting and other activity — not climate change — drove the big mammals into extinction, researchers argue in a new study.

by Maggie Fox /  / Updated 

A ranger takes care of Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on May 3, 2017.AP file

Humans have been killing off the biggest game animals for millennia, and we’re still doing it.

A study to be published Friday in the journal Science argues that humans steadily drove into extinction the biggest land creatures, such as mammoths, rhinos and giant bears.

And human trophy hunting is still sending the biggest land mammals into the endangered zone, the researchers say, with little hope left for saving them from extinction.

Their new analysis contradicts arguments that climate change drove the extinctions of many animals, such as North American camels, several species of rhinoceros, the North African elephant and saber-toothed tigers.

If the trend keeps up, the cow, at around 2,000 pounds, may end up being the biggest land mammal, the team of researchers, led by biologist Felisa Smith of the University of New Mexico, argued.

Related

There’s no debate that as humans spread, big mammals declined. But some experts have said that the same climate, weather and geological conditions that killed off the big game allowed humans to thrive and spread.

Smith’s team did a new analysis, looking at the fossil record of large and small mammals and comparing it to what’s known about the spread of humans across the globe.

They found little evidence that climate was to blame for extinctions of big game species.

Large mammals were abundant as people evolved and spread, they noted. “For example, a striking feature of the Pleistocene was the abundance and diversity of extremely large mammals such as the mammoth, giant ground sloth, woolly rhinoceros, and saber tooth tiger on all habitable continents,” they wrote.

And, they also found, large and small mammals were both affected by changes in average temperature.

Related

Yet the big extinction events mostly affected the really big animals.

“If climate were causing this, we would expect to see these extinction events either sometimes (diverging from) human migration across the globe or always lining up with clear climate events in the record,” Kate Lyons of the University of Nebraska, who worked on the study team, said in a statement. “And they don’t do either of those things.”

It’s still going on.

“Wild mammals are in decline globally because of a lethal combination of human-mediated threats, including hunting, introduced predators and habitat modification,” the researchers wrote.

It’s no surprise, said Lyons.

“From a life-history standpoint, it makes some sense. If you kill a rabbit, you’re going to feed your family for a night. If you can kill a large mammal, you’re going to feed your village,” she said.

And people do prefer to kill the biggest animals, whether for food or for glory. “It just seems to be something that we do,” she said.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/people-killed-biggest-game-we-re-still-doing-it-n867621

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Perry County substitute teacher fired after hunting rifle left in vehicle on campus

Perry County substitute teacher fired after hunting rifle left in vehicle on campus

PERRYVILLE, Mo. – A substitute teacher in Perry County School District 32 will not be allowed to work in the district again after a rifle was found in his vehicle Friday afternoon.

According to the Perryville Police Department, officers were dispatched to the Perryville Career and Technology Center around 1:30 p.m. for a report of a weapon in a vehicle.

Students at the center noticed the rifle in the teacher’s car and told an instructor. The school resource officer got the teacher who owned the vehicle and the weapon—a .22 caliber hunting rifle—was removed from the vehicle for safekeeping. The teacher told police he’d been coyote hunting the night before and forgot the rifle was in his car.

The substitute teacher was later escorted from the campus and brought to the police department.

The Perry County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is weighing whether to file charges against the teacher for having a firearm on school property.

Meanwhile, Perry County School District Superintendent Andy Comstock sent a message to all parents about the incident. Comstock said the substitute teacher passed all criminal background checks before being hired. And while it’s believed there was never any “intent to harm or threaten anyone,” the superintendent said the substitute teacher will no longer be welcome to work for the district in any capacity.

The superintendent also praised the students for alerting school officials.

This incident highlights the challenges facing schools today.

There are dangers to children today that did not exist a generation ago. Our staff, and even our students, are constantly vigilant for anything that seems to be suspicious. We stress the importance of “If you see something, say something.” Our students did that today.

Their vigilance paid off, and our crisis plan and training allowed us to ensure that our students were safe.

I know it’s a scary time to be a parent, an educator or a student. With the recent school tragedies across our nation, and false alarms on our campus, we have appreciated the community’s support for our teachers and children. I hope that you understand that your continued support is needed now more than ever, as we work to further secure our campus to keep our children safe.

People Can Lose Right to Carry Gun, but Get Hunting License

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/pennsylvania/articles/2018-03-24/people-can-lose-right-to-carry-gun-but-get-hunting-license

In the 1990s, John Wolfe lost the right to carry a gun, but he bought hunting licenses for many years without running into a problem.

March 24, 2018, at 3:02 a.m.

People Can Lose Right to Carry Gun, but Get Hunting License

By MADDIE CROCENZI and ED MAHON, York Daily Record

YORK, Pa. (AP) — In the 1990s, John Wolfe lost the right to carry a gun.

But Wolfe bought hunting licenses for many years without running into a problem.

Wolfe used a shotgun that he bought when he was about 18 to shoot a nearly 11-inch turkey.

Then one December morning in 2014, Wolfe decided to go hunting before work. He got caught by game wardens. A judge found him guilty of illegal gun possession in 2016. He now faces two-and-a-half to five years in state prison.

Wolfe’s case points to a loophole in Pennsylvania‘s gun laws. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people buy hunting licenses. That allows them to hunt deer, turkey and other animals in the woods while carrying a gun.

But under state law, people don’t need to pass any type of background check to confirm it’s legal for them to possess a gun in order to get a hunting license. There’s also no background check for a Sportsman’s Firearm Permit, which allows people to carry a handgun for hunting purposes.

This can put game wardens in dangerous situations.

In 2010, Christopher Johnson was suspected of illegally shooting a deer on a rural road near Gettysburg. David Grove, a game warden, stopped him. Johnson was a convicted felon, so he wasn’t allowed to possess a gun. He had a valid hunting license, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission Assistant Counsel Jason Raup.

Johnson told a passenger in his car he wasn’t going back to jail, the passenger testified later.

Johnson opened fire and shot Grove. Grove died instantly. Johnson was convicted and sentenced to the death penalty, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015.

Few arrests

The York Daily Record/Sunday News reviewed nearly four years of cases in which someone who was banned from possessing a gun was charged with illegal firearm possession in the York County Court of Common Pleas.

Of those more than 400 cases, four were related to hunting. In two of those cases, a person was caught while hunting. In two others, men were arrested for DUI and told police they had been hunting earlier.

First-time hunters and trappers must pass a hunting education course before being able to purchase a Pennsylvania hunting license. Sean Heisey, York Daily Record

Under federal law, all felonies and some misdemeanor convictions make it illegal for people to possess a gun. But specific hunting license information in Pennsylvania, such as the names of those with licenses, is not public under the Game and Wildlife Code. So it’s not possible to check the records on all of the people granted hunting licenses to see if they have criminal convictions that make it illegal for them to possess guns.

In states where license information is public, reporters have found large numbers of convicted felons hunting illegally.

In 2006, an Associated Press investigation showed that at least 660 felons on parole or probation received tags that allowed them to hunt with rifles or shotguns in Montana. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette found about 4,800 felons bought hunting licenses during the 2007-08 hunting season. At least 859 hunted with a muzzleloader or a modern gun.

Few, if any, states verify that someone is allowed to possess a gun when they issue a hunting license.

But some states have stricter requirements than Pennsylvania for general gun and ammunition possession.

ConnecticutIllinoisMassachusetts and New Jersey require a firearms license to purchase or possess ammunition, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Illinois and Massachusetts require a license to own a firearm.

Massachusetts doesn’t have a background check system for hunting licenses. But Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners Action League in Massachusetts, said he thinks the strict gun laws in the state have kept people with criminal convictions from hunting.

In fact, he thinks it’s kept too many people from hunting. Wallace said the ban winds up covering people who made foolish mistakes decades ago but aren’t dangerous.

Some states warn people they can’t hunt if they are banned from possessing a gun.

In Maine, there is no check to confirm people can possess a gun when they apply for a hunting license, but they have to disclose whether they are a convicted felon. If they lie, they could face charges of unsworn falsification and fraudulently obtaining a license.

In Rhode Island, the hunting license application says people convicted of certain crimes, including sexual assault and felony drug delivery, can’t buy or possess a hunting license. If they do, they could be punished with a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

Raup said this warning isn’t included on Pennsylvania hunting license applications. He wasn’t aware of any instructions — whether on the PGC’s website or included in printed materials — that says being ineligible to possess a firearm prevents you from hunting with one.

Details from a 2011 Pennsylvania Game Commission operation showed felons continued to hunt with firearms. Operation Talon, a nighttime operation to stop poaching, was first held during the weekends of Oct. 21, 28 and Nov. 5, according to the Pocono Record. During those three weekends, two felons were caught possessing firearms. In 2017, no felons possessing firearms were caught during Operation Talon.

Raup said it’s “a growing problem” that’s difficult for the agency to quantify.

“I don’t know that statistically we have a good handle on that because we only come across it when we come across it,” Raup said.

The law

The process of identifying and prosecuting a convicted felon hunting with a firearm is complicated.

“There is no one-size-fits-all response that we take,” Raup said.

Full-time game wardens have the legal authority to charge someone for any crime, including specific wildlife laws. Wardens can stop anyone and do a background check, even if they don’t see an immediate violation. However, Raup said most stops begin with some kind of violation.

Others self-identify as convicted felons who know they weren’t supposed to be hunting. And sometimes, officers just have a “gut hunch” that something is off, according to Raup.

In Wolfe’s case, he was caught hunting by a game warden who already knew he wasn’t allowed to possess a gun. Raup said this happens but is somewhat infrequent.

A game warden will put a felon under arrest for hunting with a firearm. However, that doesn’t mean the individual will lose his or her license. Because there’s no background check, the individual could apply and hunt again the following year if he or she hasn’t committed any game and wildlife violations.

The agency has no legal authority to do background checks at the beginning of a hunting license sale, according to Raup. As a result, criminal history doesn’t stop the sale of a hunting license. Only Game and Wildlife Code violations can result in license suspension or revocation.

“A lot of folks kind of look at that and see that as ‘Holy smokes, that’s kind of bizarre;’ you’re selling licenses to persons in large respect who can’t even possess a firearm,” Raup said.

People caught hunting when their license is revoked for violating a wildlife law face a $1,000-$1,500 fine and can also face up to 90 days in prison. Hunting with an illegally possessed firearm can lead to years in prison.

“If you get this wrong, it’s not just a citation, it’s a felony,” Raup said. “You’re arrested. You’re put in jail. I do think there is an important responsibility we have as a state to ensure we are fairly applying the law.”

Response

The work game wardens do can be dangerous. That’s why state Rep. Keith Gillespie, R-Hellam Township, proposed a bill in January 2017 to define game wardens as “enforcement officers” – and give them the same benefits as other officers.

Gillespie, chairman of the state House Game & Fisheries Committee, said game wardens are often by themselves in remote areas of the state. He compared felons hunting with firearms to those who continue to drive after getting a DUI – people who “don’t get the message.”

“I wish we could legislate good scruples, morals and ethics,” Gillespie said. “Unfortunately, we can’t.”

Gillespie said he liked the idea of background checks to get hunting licenses and wanted to explore it with the Game Commission.

But Raup sees potential problems with that idea. Convicted felons can’t hunt with a firearm, but they can legally hunt or trap with air guns, archery equipment and more. Raup said denying hunting licenses to these people would also deny them access to legal hunting activities.

“A background check at the time of application is kind of a spooky thing,” he said. “I don’t know if our society wants us doing that.”

Steve Mohr doesn’t want that either. He is a 67-year-old hunter, the vice president of Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania and a former state game commissioner.

“We already have so many ways of checking it now, and people fall through the cracks,” said Mohr, who lives in Lancaster County, near the Susquehanna River. “So why waste the time?”

Mohr thinks that a background check system would make things harder on people who don’t break the law. They would end up having to wait longer for hunting licenses and pay more for the licenses, he said.

Shira Goodman, who recently took a temporary leave of absence as executive director of CeaseFirePA, said there are bigger gaps in gun laws than the hunting one. In Pennsylvania, you can buy a rifle from a friend or neighbor without a background check. If you lose a gun or it’s stolen from you, you don’t have to report that to police.

But she said the gaps add up and make the problem worse.

Paul Orr, an attorney who represented Wolfe, is a hunter. He thinks doing background checks on everyone seeking a hunting license might not be a good idea. But he thinks that at the very least license applications should warn people that previous convictions could make it illegal for them to possess a gun.

“It would at least put the person on notice,” Orr said.

Raup thinks part of the problem is confusing state firearms laws, which create a dilemma for law enforcement officers. He thinks the court system could provide better information and education so people don’t inadvertently commit felonies.

“I think we could do better,” he said.

‘Just a country boy’

Wolfe and his attorneys have argued that he didn’t know he wasn’t allowed to possess a gun.

“He’s not an attorney. He’s not a judge. He’s just a country boy from York who likes to hunt,” Orr said at Wolfe’s trial.

Meanwhile, prosecutor Susan Emmons described Wolfe — someone with multiple felony and other convictions on his record — as the very type of person lawmakers want to keep guns away from.

His case gives a view of how these illegal gun possession cases play out.

Wolfe, 42, has been convicted of several crimes that make it illegal for him to possess a gun. In the 1990s, he was convicted of burglary and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. In 2009, he was convicted on a charge of possession with intent to deliver marijuana.

But, over the years, he had access to guns, he testified during his trial.

In 2013, Wolfe met with a game warden after the officer got a report of Wolfe allegedly using a muzzle-loading firearm to shoot a large buck, even though it wasn’t buck season.

That game warden, Kyle Jury, and Wolfe have described the conversation that took place between them differently.

Jury testified that when he spoke to Wolfe, Wolfe didn’t have a muzzleloader with him. Wolfe wasn’t charged with a crime either. But Jury said he still warned him that he wasn’t allowed to possess a gun, even a muzzleloader.

Wolfe said the conversation was more vague.

For the 2014-15 hunting season, Wolfe bought at least one hunting license from Walmart, he testified.

In December 2014, Wolfe went hunting before work. It was a dreary morning, he said.

Jury was on patrol in Newberry Township a little after 7 a.m. It was early during rifle deer season. It’s a busy time of year, and Jury was used to doing what are known as field checks. He’d make sure hunters had their licenses. He’d see that they wore enough fluorescent orange.

Then Jury spotted someone hunting close to a property where an owner had previously expressed concerns about hunters being too close. When Jury and a fellow officer approached, Wolfe was in a tree stand, about 15 feet in the air and wearing orange.

Wolfe had a firearm with him — a shotgun with a rifle barrel for hunting deer, Jury testified.

When Wolfe took off his hat, Jury recognized him. Wolfe wasn’t carrying a hunting license with him, which is a violation.

The wardens confirmed Wolfe wasn’t allowed to possess a gun and arrested him.

Wolfe fought the illegal gun possession charge. At an April 2016 trial, he testified that he thought the ban on him possessing a gun ended when his probation did. The shotgun that game wardens found with Wolfe is one he bought when he was about 18, he testified. Whenever he was on probation and not allowed to possess a gun, he would give that shotgun and any other similar guns to his mother, he testified.

His attorney argued that probation office forms were confusing. The prosecutor and York County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Bortner didn’t buy that argument.

Bortner found Wolfe guilty of illegally possessing a gun. He later defended the decision, saying, “The evidence showed he had every reason to know he was not allowed to have guns.”

Emmons, the prosecutor, asked for five years to 10 years in state prison, saying the sentencing guidelines called for that. Bortner said that amount of time was excessive and instead sentenced him to two-and-a-half to five years in state prison.

Wolfe appealed, but the Pennsylvania Superior Court agreed with Bortner. Then, in October 2017, he appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

While his case was under appeal, Wolfe remained free on supervised bail.

One of the conditions of bail is that he can’t possess a gun. That might seem obvious.

But Bortner made that extra clear back in June 2016 at Wolfe’s sentencing hearing.

“As difficult as it may be for you and your lifestyle, you need to stay away from firearms,” Bortner told Wolfe.

The case was under appeal for more than a year. But on Feb. 21, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Wolfe’s request for an appeal. The day of the decision, Wolfe’s attorney for the appeal, Eric Winter, said he and Wolfe would have to discuss options.

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Online:

http://bit.ly/2G1KHnt

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Information from: York Daily Record, http://www.ydr.com

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.

State drops deer cruelty charge against Washington hunter

 https://knox.villagesoup.com/p/state-drops-deer-cruelty-charge-against-washington-hunter/1685380

By Stephen Betts | Sep 06, 2017

WASHINGTON — A 58-year-old Washington man was convicted Wednesday, Sept. 6, of a trio of hunting violations,but the most serious charge, felony cruelty to a deer, was dismissed by the state.

Ronald Mole pleaded no contest in Knox County Superior Court to night hunting, placing bait to entice deer and discharging a firearm near a dwelling. The no contest plea results in a conviction, but allows him to challenge the facts in separate administrative or civil proceedings.

The District Attorney’s Office dismissed a more serious charge of aggravated cruelty to animals. The charge was considered to be the first time that the animal cruelty law had been used in relation to the shooting of a deer by a hunter.

Mole will be fined $1,000 if he adheres to terms of a deferred disposition over the next 12 months. The terms require him to obey all laws during the next year. If he commits any new offenses, he could face up to the maximum of 365 days in jail for the night hunting conviction.

The offenses occurred Nov. 6 and Nov. 7 on the Old Union Road in Washington, according to paperwork filed in court by Maine Game Warden Joey Lefebvre of the Maine Inland and Fish and Wildlife department.

The animal was shot while Mole was illegally night hunting, according to investigators. The deer was left to suffer during the night until Mole returned the following morning, the state claimed.

The cruelty charge had alleged that Mole acted in a way that “manifested a depraved indifference to animal life or suffering, did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause extreme physical pain to an animal, cause the death of an animal, or physically torture an animal.”

Generally, animal cruelty cases involve abuse to pets.

After Mole was charged, his attorney, Christopher MacLean, of Camden, had said he was amazed that his client had been charged with animal cruelty.

“In a state with such a proud hunting tradition, it absolutely amazes me to see a felony prosecution for animal cruelty in a case where the deer was lawfully shot and properly tagged by a licensed Maine hunter. Cases like this slowly erode hunting rights in the state; I fear the next step will be to restrict gun ownership itself by those who have no understanding of Maine’s hunting tradition,” MacLean said at the time the charges were brought.

The state said the hunting occurred at 8 p.m. Nov. 6. Sunset was at 4:19 p.m. Hunting is prohibited from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.

Then District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau said after the charge was filed that the theory of prosecution for this case was that there was a far greater chance of a deer’s suffering if it was hunted illegally at night when a clean shot is less likely and when the deer cannot be tracked as easily.

Firing a gun within 100 yards of a residential dwelling is illegal in Maine without the permission of the property owner.

A companion case against Lisa Black, 47, of Washington, was dropped by the state. Black had been charged with unsworn falsification and false registration of a deer.

Disputed Duck Blind: Man Assaulted for Hunting in Duck Blind

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/north-carolina/articles/2018-01-30/disputed-duck-blind-wildlife-official-gets-hit-in-the-head

Authorities in North Carolina say a man went on a slur- and threat-filled rant before he rammed a boat carrying a state wildlife commissioner and another man who he said was hunting in his duck blind.

Jan. 30, 2018,

SWAN QUARTER, N.C. (AP) — Authorities say a man assaulted a cousin of Gov. Roy Cooper and a North Carolina wildlife official, ranted at them with slurs and threats and accused them of hunting in his duck blind.

The Hyde County Sheriff’s Office said 29-year-old Jarrod Thomas Umphlett faces multiple charges, including assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

An incident report says Umphlett’s boat rammed a boat carrying John Clark Purvis Sr. and Wildlife Resources Commission member Richard Edwards on Dec. 16. The impact knocked Edwards over, according to the report.

Umphlett boarded the boat, hit Purvis in the back of the head with his fist, also hit him on the shoulder and yelled racial slurs multiple times, the report said. All three men are white. The report says Umphlett threatened to “crush your skull in this lake.”

Purvis told deputies he pointed his shotgun at Umphlett to get him to stop his attack. The report said Purvis was bruised and had a bump on his head but was not seriously injured.

The men also said as they were leaving the lake that Umphlett told them he would kill them if they came back, according to the report.

It’s not known if Umphlett has an attorney. Deputies said when they went to his home to question him, Umphlett used the racial slurs multiple times again to refer to the men, whom he also called “rich pretty white boys.” He also told authorities he got no closer than 15 feet to the other boat and that the men were trying to run away when he saw them.

“Duck hunting has always been a gentlemen’s sport and it needs to remain this way,” Purvis said. He called the incident an “unfortunate event” and “traumatic.”

The sheriff’s office said Umphlett was also charged in a similar incident Dec. 27 when he and another man confronted a man and his son on the same lake. The report on that incident said Umphlett again used racial slurs even though the man and his son were white. The man said the harassment continued until he and his son left to hunt at a different location.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press

Column: Legal ramifications of hunting accidents

https://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2018/01/16/column-legal-ramifications-of-hunting-accidents.html

By Barry Covert  –  Guest Columnist

Hunting season is an annual tradition for many New Yorkers. While hunting is meant to be an enjoyable recreational activity, accidents happen and even the most seasoned hunters can make mistakes and/or be at risk from fellow hunters.

Planning, accident-prevention measures and common sense are key. It goes without saying that alcohol and hunting do not mix; perhaps a close second is fatigue and hunting do not mix.

Safety courses are mandatory for new hunters but also should be utilized by infrequent hunters who want to “dust off” the old rifle or shotgun.

Should someone become injured, giving aid should be a hunter’s first priority. However, they should also bear in mind the legal ramifications of an accident. A hunter can be held liable in civil and criminal court for injuring someone while hunting so they must understand their options.

Importance of intent

The bulk of hunting accidents generally fall into three categories: accidental firing that injures a person; missing a target and accidentally hitting a person; and mistaking a person for an animal.

A hunting accident can result in criminal charges and/or a civil lawsuit. The issue of intent is central to liability. In a civil lawsuit, if the person using the gun intended to shoot an animal, that person cannot later argue that there was no intent to hit the unintended victim. In those cases, because the intent was to hit something, that intention supersedes whether or not the intended target was hit.

Under criminal law, intent is treated differently. If the accident is fatal, the prosecution often argues that intent is not relevant because the defendant was criminally negligent. In New York, a person is criminally negligent when they fail to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk. That risk must constitute a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the same situation. N.Y. Penal Law § 15.05.

Non-fatal accidents

In criminal cases, if the accident does not result in the victim’s death, the hunter may be penalized with fines of $5,000 to $10,000, up to one year in jail or both. See Pen. L. §§ 70.00(4); 80.00(1); 120.20; 120.25. In those instances, the chances of being found criminally liable decrease. Such liability requires the criminal action and a supporting mental state. This is where the intent becomes more relevant; punishment is more likely if the defendant fails to provide the necessary aid to the injured party because it shows disregard for that person’s life.

In civil cases, a hunting accident must be intentional or a result of negligence in order for the defendant to be held liable. One defense against an intentional claim is that the defendant did not intend to shoot anything. This is difficult to prove in a hunting accident because hunting inherently involves shooting at a target. The most important factor is the defendant’s intent to use a weapon to hit a target; which target the defendant hits is less important.

Fatal accidents

If the accident is fatal, the state has several options for bringing charges. It can charge the defendant with involuntary manslaughter, which requires criminal negligence on the part of the defendant. A person may be found guilty of manslaughter in the second degree if that person recklessly causes another person’s death. The difference between criminal negligence and civil negligence is that criminal negligence requires the defendant to engage in blameworthy conduct so serious that it creates or contributes to a substantial and unjustifiable risk that another person’s death will occur, and fails to perceive that risk.

According to New York Penal Code § 265.35, a person may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if that person intentionally discharges a firearm in a public place or with persons nearby, intentionally points a firearm at another person, intentionally aims and discharges a firearm at another person but does not injure them or intentionally aims and discharges and does injure them.

In the event of fatality, a wrongful death claim may be brought in civil court. Wrongful death claims can be either intentional or negligent. One defense against a negligence claim is assumption of the risk. This defense is most useful when the area in which the accident occurred is a popular spot for hunting, and the victim knew of the potential dangers. It can also be argued that the victim contributed to their own injury through carelessness.

Standard of care

In criminal and civil cases, the “standard of care” is used to address the question of negligence. The standard of care asks whether a reasonable person in the same situation as the defendant would have acted the way the defendant did. The defendant’s carelessness is measured against this standard. In order for the defendant to be found liable for negligence, the injury must be a foreseeable result of the defendant’s actions.

Should the tragedy of a hunting accident occur, helping the injured party is of the utmost importance. It is also vital that hunters understand how their intentions and the injury’s severity could affect how they are penalized, as well as what the ramifications may be for negligent or careless behavior.

Hunters careless, inhumane

Letter in answer to:

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/12/27/maine-voices-actions-of-a-select-few-unfairly-portray-hunters-as-careless-inhumane/

Dear Editor,

Well, Taylor LaFlamme was right about one thing in her January 27 “Maine Voices” piece, “Actions of a select few unfairly portray hunters as careless, inhumane.” The one thing she was right about was that, “..everyone has their opinion,” and hers was consistent with the opinion piece’s misguided title. 

I’m not defending Maine drivers, but when comparing auto versus hunting accidents it’s only fair to consider how many vehicles are on the roads in a given year and how many hunters are in the woods during hunting season. Granted, there are times when it seems there are a lot of hunters out there, but so far there isn’t the need for speed limits or traffic lights to prevent a pileup.

Yes, everyone has the right to their opinion, but perhaps in light of some of the recent well publicized hunting accidents, opinions in defense of hunting are best kept to oneself.

The piece ends with the inarguable statement, “Hunting…is a way of meeting new people and making new memories.” The question is, why do those memories have to revolve around killing?

Jim Robertson

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting    

Maine Voices: Actions of select few unfairly portray hunters as careless, inhumane

NORTH YARMOUTH — As a teenage girl, an avid hunter and a Mainer, it has come to my attention that there have recently been many unfair generalizations regarding hunters and their ability to hunt safely. Most of these generalizations are posted as comments on social media and news websites. Unfortunately, hunting is usually covered only when something has gone horribly wrong, stereotyping hunters as reckless and irresponsible.

From firsthand experience, I can express to you that hunters in general are not the problem; only select individuals make poor decisions. As in any human activity, such as driving and boating, accidents are inevitable. For example, in 2016 there were 160 car-related deaths and nine boating-related deaths in Maine, yet since 2011, there have only been three hunting-related deaths in Maine.

Responsibility is a central ideal of hunting, which is why candidates for a hunting license must complete safety courses and pass a test, including multiple questions regarding the process of identifying your target before shooting. In fact, it is a Maine law that in order to acquire a hunting license after the age of 16, one must have taken and passed a hunter safety course, unless one can prove possession of a hunting license before 1976.

Unfortunately, the occasional hunter has failed to adhere to these core ideals, resulting in unfair backlash against hunters in Maine. For example, after WGME’s coverage of an Oxford accident wherein a man was shot while hunting with his friends, someone who said they were from southern Maine commented online, “Hunters are idiots.”

And this isn’t the only case of people generalizing that hunters are negligent and dumb. Referring to the Hebron incident, a commenter whose online name is Firenze said on Britain’s Daily Mail website: “Hunters want us to respect them, but they continue to act irresponsibly.

How are hunters any more irresponsible than drivers in Maine? With an average of 148 car-related deaths a year in Maine since 2011, and only three hunting-related deaths in that same time period, couldn’t one argue that drivers are more irresponsible than hunters?

Although everyone has their opinions, not everyone is aware of why we hunt in the first place. For many, venison is a food source that fills a freezer at a much cheaper price than buying meat from a grocery store. Many Maine families depend on the game they shoot each hunting season to feed them through winter.

Not only is hunting for your own food cheaper, but it is also healthier and more humane. What deer in the woods eat is all natural and contains no preservatives, making venison better for one’s health. Hunters are commonly asked whether it is inhumane to shoot such a beautiful creature, but what many don’t realize is that hunting is more humane than what some factory farms do to the cows that end up in our supermarkets.

Hunting also benefits all Mainers by controlling Maine’s deer population. If we didn’t hunt, deer populations would become too great, drastically increasing the risk of deer-related car crashes. Hunting also contributes greatly to Maine’s economy, generating $8.1 million from the 168,890 licenses sold in 2016. Hunting is important to Maine and its history, though it is often misunderstood by many.

In the past five years, the number of hunting licenses has risen 10 percent, yet the number of hunting-related accidents is at a record low. Only three hunting-related deaths have occurred since 2011, yet because of the careless actions of a select few individuals, people still make disparaging generalizations about all hunters. Hunting plays a very important role in our state, even for those who don’t hunt, and many know nothing about it, yet they call us all reckless and irresponsible.

Hunting unites Mainers and is a way of meeting new people and making memories. I have never been more proud to say that I am a Maine hunter.

Hunter Shoots Farmer Dead At Warabeba Community

 

A thirty- two-year-old farmer has been shot dead at Warabeba , a suburb of Ayensudo in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem Municipality of the Central region .

The father of two, Atta Panin, was allegedly shot dead by his friend Kofi Benya, who is a hunter when the farmer went to his house to demand a gun he had given him hunting for hunting expeditions.

The two had agreed to share the spoils from the hunting expedition but the accused is said to have failed to honour his part of the agreement as he kept all the proceeds to himself, a situation which didn’t go well with the deceased.

The action is said to have annoyed the deceased to go and retrieve his gun only to be shot from the rare by the accused when he was leaving to his house after collecting the said gun.

The accused is said to have entered his room to grab another gun which he used to shoot the farmer and afterward run away. 

The farmer was subsequently rushed to the Central regional hospital by some residents who heard the gunshot.

The youth of the town on hearing of the death of the farmer moved in to burn down the house of the accused and his known allies in the town .

The case has since been filed with the Elmina police who are on a manhunt for the accused.

Kofi Benya , is already in the bad books of the police for threatening the deceased sometime ago which led to him signing a bond of good behavior after apologising to the now deceased.

The body of the deceased has been deposited at the Central regional hospital for autopsy.

Family angry accused man didn’t try to help victim after hunter-related shooting

By John Holyoke, BDN Staff •
Updated:

Family photo courtesy of CBS 13 | BDN
Karen Wrentzel

SOUTH PARIS, Maine — A week ago, a composed but somber Beverly Spofford shared intimate details about her granddaughter, celebrating the life authorities say was cut short by a deer hunter.

On Wednesday, as that hunter, Robert R. Trundy, 38, of Hebron, made his first court appearance and was charged with manslaughter in the death of Karen Wrentzel, 34, of Hebron, Spofford’s demeanor had changed.

“I am just very, very angry,” Spofford said.

Wrentzel, who underwent surgery to treat cervical cancer in September, had moved into her grandmother’s Hebron mobile home a day before her own death on Oct. 28 in order to heal and help Spofford through the winter.

Spofford said reading an account of the affidavit filed on Tuesday afternoon changed everything. In that document, Maine Game Warden Anthony Gray alleged that Trundy told him he heard someone scream after he fired the shot, and that he hadn’t rendered aid after shooting Wrentzel.

“Robert stated, after he fired his rifle, what he shot at screamed, and he thought to himself deer don’t do that,” Gray states in the affidavit. “Instead of rendering aid to Karen, Robert called his father by phone and told him he, Robert, thought he just shot someone.”

Spofford said reading the affidavit was devastating.

“He heard her scream. He heard her scream,” Spofford said. “And he knew he’d hurt somebody, but he couldn’t go down and call 911 or go down and say, ‘I’m sorry’? Or whatever? I just don’t know.”

When asked by a reporter what went through her head when she saw Trundy enter the courtroom, she struggled to find an answer.

“He took away my granddaughter,” Spofford said before bursting into tears.

The Risk of Nuclear War with North Korea

By The New Yorker

[ ‘She didn’t come back’: Grandmother remembers woman killed by hunter]

Trundy entered no plea and gave single-word answers when questioned by Superior Court Justice Lance Walker at Oxford County Courthouse.

His defense attorney, Scott Lynch, cautioned that affidavits tell only one side in a court case.

“I will provide more information about that as the case goes on, but I’ve been involved with this case for all of 12 hours, so it will take me a bit of time to get up to speed with that,” he said.

A woman who answered the phone at a number listed for Trundy’s place of business said he would not comment about the case.

The shooting took place on the residents-only opening day of deer hunting season. Wrentzel was not wearing hunter orange clothing — there is no requirement for nonhunters to do so — and was digging for gemstones on a 15-acre parcel that her grandmother had given her.

Wrentzel’s mother, Debbie Morin of Lewiston, said reading about the warden’s allegations in the affidavit was difficult because she and other family members learned details they hadn’t known. Among those allegations: That Trundy never called for help, and no help was summoned until his father, Ralph Trundy, arrived on the scene minutes later.

“There certainly was [surprising information in the affidavit],” Morin said. “That he didn’t call 911. That he did nothing to help her at the end.”

Morin urged media outlets to stop referring to Wrentzel’s death as a “hunting accident.”

“This is not an accidental shooting. He deliberately pulled the trigger,” Morin said.

[ ‘For my death’: Victim of Hebron hunting-related incident left these instructions]

Jon Spofford, Wrentzel’s uncle, was visibly upset as he walked down the courthouse steps.

“[Reading the affidavit] changed things considerably. In my opinion that was a total disregard for human life,” he said. “If you’re coming onto my property to kill something, and if you mess up, do the right thing. That’s all. Do the right thing, and make an attempt.”

Wrentzel’s brother, Jeremy Wrentzel of Auburn, said he was growing frustrated with some who have begun criticizing his sister for her clothing choices.

“Just because it’s fall and it’s hunting season, the woods do not belong to the hunters. It’s not a person’s responsibility to wear orange or not go into the woods,” he said. “ It’s the hunter’s responsibility not to fire at something unless they know what they’re firing at.”

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