Court Calendar

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2004:

Initiative victories upheld

The U.S. Supreme Court on November 15 rejected without
comment a petition seeking to overturn the initiative ban on
cockfighting approved by Oklahoma voters in 2002. Spokespersons for
the United Gamefowl Breeders Association indicated that since the ban
has withstood all appeals, they will lobby to reduce the penalties.
Louisiana and New Mexico are the last states to allow cockfighting.

A three-judge panel of the Washington state Court of Appeals
in Tacoma on December 7 upheld initiative laws I-655, which in 1996
banned baiting bears and restricted hunting bears, pumas, and
bobcats with dogs, and I-713, which in 2000 banned body-gripping
traps and use of Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide to poison wildlife.
The pro-hunting and trapping front Citizens for Responsible Wildlife
Management contended that both measures illegally violated the public
trust by transferring control of wildlife management away from the
state government.

Wildlife wins & losses

The New Jersey state Supreme Court on December 2 reversed an
appellate ruling that New Jersey Department of Environmental
Protection commissioner Bradley Campbell improperly refused to
process 4,000 permit applications for a bear season authorized in
July 2004 by the state Fish & Game Council. The state Supreme Court
agreed with Campbell that permits should not be issued until the
state establishes “comprehensive policies concerning the protection
and propagation of the black bear.” New Jersey allowed bear hunting
in 2003 for the first time since 1970. Data on the 328 bears who
were killed indicated that New Jersey has barely half as many bears
as the Fish & Game council believed. The Humane Society of the U.S.
and the Fund for Animals alleged meanwhile that U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service employee John McDonald on November 10 “unlawfully threatened
to terminate all federal conservation funding for New Jersey” if the
bear hunt was not held. The potential intensity of hunter pressure
on bears was illustrated in Maryland, where 400 permits were sold
for the first bear hunt there since 1953. The hunt was halted on
opening day because 20 of the 30-bear quota had already been killed.

A three-judge panel of the New Jersey Court of Appeals on
November 18 ruled that, “There is no cognizable property right in
feeding wild deer that is subject to due process guarantees. This is
because wild game belongs to the people of the State.” The 21
plaintiffs against a Princeton Townships ordinance against
deer-feeding included author Joyce Carol Oates and activist Tamara
Gund, who in 2003 was fined $4,000 and given a suspended 30-day jail
term for feeding deer in defiance of the ordinance. An irony of the
case is that it was filed by opponents of deer hunting. Similar
cases have been waged in other states by deer hunters who oppose
restrictions on baiting.

U.S. District Court Judge Lewis M. Blanton on November 22
ordered John H. Partney, 55, of Van Buren, Missouri, to serve
three months in prison for illegally setting a toothed leghold trap
and a snare on private property and poaching a bobcat on U.S. Forest
Service land. Partney was also fined $2,500. The unusually stiff
sentence came because Partney had two previous convictions for
federal wildlife law violations, two state wildlife law convictions,
and three felony convictions for illegally selling firearms and
destroying evidence. “His fishing, trapping, and hunting
privileges were revoked by the state of Missouri for life,” wrote
Linda Redeffer of the Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian.

Circuit Court Judge Beverley Nettles-Nickerson, of Ingham
County, Michigan, on December 6 denied an attempt by the Michigan
Bear Hunters Association to block the first bobcat trapping season
authorized in the Michigan lower peninsula in more than 50 years.
The 11-day bobcat season, won through lobbying by the Michigan
Trappers Association, was opened without field research to assess
the bobcat population. A similar lobbying effort by the Ohio
Trappers Association is expected to influence the Ohio Division of
Wildlife to re-open otter trapping in Ohio in late 2005. Trapped out
more than 50 years ago, otters were reintroduced between 1986 and
1993, and were only removed from the state endangered species list
in 2002.

Berosini told to pay up–again

Las Vegas U.S. Magistrate Lawrence Leavitt on November 22
ordered orangutan trainer Bobby Berosini to pay PETA $256,087 in
legal fees incurred in collecting a $350,000 judgement against
Berosini issued in 1994 by the Nevada Supreme Court. The Nevada
Supreme court ruling overturned a 1990 jury award of $4.2 million to
Berosini in a defamation case, after PETA in 1989 distributed a
video appearing to show Berosini striking an orangutan.

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