Let's take a break from the presidential debates and non-stop media coverage of the November 2016 election and deal with a particularly urgent matter — whether or it’s legal or not to hunt for the elusive Bigfoot.
Don’t try Bigfoot hunting in California – it could result in your arrest and conviction, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
On May 11, 2012, the CDFW issued a statement in response to media reports about a Texas wildlife official proclaiming that bigfoot hunting is legal in the long horn state.
“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says that in theory, it would be legal to hunt Bigfoot in their state,” stated a CDFW facebook post. “Not so in California!”
“The lack of confirmation of this alleged animal’s existence brings into question whether or not it occurs naturally in California,” according to the agency. “If Bigfoot occurs naturally in the state, then it would be defined as a non-game mammal pursuant to California Fish and Game Code Section 415.”
In order to take a non-game mammal legally in California, it must be listed in the California Code of Regulations, which Bigfoot is not.
“If Bigfoot does not occur naturally in California then it would not be defined as a non-game mammal and could not be taken legally… unless the Bigfoot was causing property damage (in which case it could be depredated) or if a Bigfoot was considered a public safety threat (in which case the animal could be taken).”
If the existence of only one Bigfoot was confirmed, then it could be considered “threatened and endangered” and could potentially be listed as a protected species under the state or federal Endangered Species Acts, according to the agency.
“But if a healthy and growing population of Bigfoot was confirmed, a hunting season for the creature might be considered and could potentially be implemented (unless a law is passed that lists it as a specially protected mammal),” the CDFW said.
However, the agency cautioned, “But even if it was legal to hunt Bigfoot in California, the cryptid would surely prove to be extremely elusive prey for even the most crafty and seasoned of hunters. Because, as history shows, this species is notoriously hard to spot, photograph or document … which means it’s likely to be extraordinarily difficult to track down and dispatch.”
“Despite its massive frame, the legendary Bigfoot seems to be as light on its feet as Fred Astaire in his hoofing prime … and perplexingly adept at blending into its habitat,” the Department quipped.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has a far different approach to Bigfoot hunting regulations.
According to a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department official, you’re free to kill as many Bigfoot as your want, since the giant cryptid isn’t listed as an endangered species, reported Live Science magazine on May 11, 2012.
“If the Commission does not specifically list an indigenous, nongame species, then the species is considered non-protected nongame wildlife, e.g., coyote, bobcat, mountain lion, cotton-tailed rabbit, etc,” wrote Lieutenant David Sinclair, Chief of Staff at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, in an email response to Bigfoot enthusiast John Lloyd Scharf. “A nonprotected nongame animal may be hunted on private property with landowner consent by any means, at any time and there is no bag limit or possession limit.”
Sharf reported that he replied to Sinclair, “So, it is the case all individuals of an unknown species … could be exterminated without criminal or civil repercussions — essentially causing extinction?”
Bigfoot enthusiasts and researchers have been concerned for years that somebody may kill a Bigfoot if and when the species is finally captured, preventing researchers from studying a live specimen of the species. Some regional governments in the Pacific Northwest, where the most Bigfoot sightings have occurred, have passed resolutions and laws to protect the cryptid, also known as Sasquatch.
In 1992, Whatcom County, Washington officials approved a resolution declaring the County a “sasquatch protection and refuge area.” This was a “county resolution,” not a new law.
In 1969, Skamania County Washington passed an ordinance prohibiting the killing of Bigfoot.
In 2007, Mike Lake, a Canadian member of parliament from Edmonton, Alberta, introduced a petition calling Bigfoot to be protected under the Canadian version of the endangered species act.
However, these measures are all based on the assumption that Bigfoot is an animal. If a Bigfoot is ever captured or its existence is proven, it may turn out that it is actually a species of hominid related to homo sapiens.
Wouldn’t it then be considered murder to kill a Bigfoot? Would Texas still consider Bigfoot a “nonprotected nongame animal?”
Anyway, the message is clear from the California Department of Wildlife: don’t kill a Bigfoot if you happen to encounter one while hiking, camping, fishing, hunting or rafting in California.
You will not only deprive science of its unique opportunity to study a live Bigfoot, but will face possible jail time and a big fine under the California Fish and Game Code. And if it is determined that Bigfoot is a close relative of homo sapiens, you may face murder charges.
Below is the email response from Lieutenant Sinclair to Scharf:
The statute that you cite (Section 61.021) refers only to game birds, game animals, fish, marine animals or other aquatic life. Generally speaking, other nongame wildlife is listed in Chapter 67 (nongame and threatened species) and Chapter 68 (nongame endangered species). “Nongame” means those species of vertebrate and invertebrate wildlife indigenous to Texas that are not classified as game animals, game birds, game fish, fur-bearing animals, endangered species, alligators, marine penaeid shrimp, or oysters. The Parks and Wildlife Commission may adopt regulations to allow a person to take, possess, buy, sell, transport, import, export or propagate nongame wildlife. If the Commission does not specifically list an indigenous, nongame species, then the species is considered non-protected nongame wildlife, e.g., coyote, bobcat, mountain lion, cotton-tailed rabbit, etc. A non-protected nongame animal may be hunted on private property with landowner consent by any means, at any time and there is no bag limit or possession limit.
An exotic animal is an animal that is non-indigenous to Texas. Unless the exotic is an endangered species then exotics may be hunted on private property with landowner consent. A hunting license is required. This does not include the dangerous wild animals that have been held in captivity and released for the purpose of hunting, which is commonly referred to as a “canned hunt”.
If you have any questions, please contact Assistant Chief Scott Vaca. I have included his e-mail address. I will be out of the office and in Houston on Friday.
L. David Sinclair Chief of Staff – Division Director I
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Law Enforcement Division 4200 Smith School Road Austin, TX 78744
Office 512.389.4854 Cell 512.971.2668 Fax 512.389.8400 “Texas Game Wardens Serving Texans Since 1895-Law Enforcement Off the Pavement”
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