On the edge of what’s legal, ethical — or even edible

The North American model of wildlife management, more than a century ago, was based on the then revolutionary, non-European concept, that the fish and game belong to all the people, not just the idle rich gentry on whose land the critters happen to reside.

Caught in the driveway

Caught in the driveway

The North American model of wildlife management, more than a century ago, was based on the then revolutionary, non-European concept, that the fish and game belong to all the people, not just the idle rich gentry on whose land the critters happen to reside.

Except for unscientific and dangerous forays into game ranching and fish farming, public ownership of the fish and game remains a prime management principle today, along with the caveat that a member of the public may acquire legal possession and ownership of fish and game only by obeying Wildlife Acts, Game Acts, Fisheries Acts, and the regulations passed to enforce them.

Section 7 of The Wildlife Act states simply: “the property in all live wildlife in Alberta is vested in the crown,” and section 8 says that the property in dead wildlife remains with the Crown unless the minister transfers it, or the animal has been lawfully hunted, tagged, etc.

So, where does that leave the many hunters I know who are proud to use up one of their precious tags on a fresh road kill, process the meat, and add it to their freezer? Charged and convicted, I suspect, on the unlucky and unlikely chance that a patrolling wildlife officer catches them in the act.

There are people I know, here and in the U.S., who, tags or not, dine well and cheaply on road kill. There is even the best-selling, serio-comic The Original Road Kill Cookbook, by Buck Peterson dealing with how to prepare “yellow line yummies,” and commecing with the first line : “Have you ever noticed how fat game warden’s children are?”

There is even Flattened Fauna, by Roger M. Knutson, a field guide for road kill foragers.

In Montana recently, Bob Ream, head of the state Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission, ignorant of one of the laws he administers, struck and killed a deer with his vehicle, tagged it and took it for processing — and did not find out what he had done was illegal until he mentioned it to a game warden.

Ream was issued a warning requiring him to donate the meat to a food bank.

It is when we get into trade or trafficking in parts of wildlife that matters can quickly go from the sublime to the ridiculous.

In Ontario recently, wildlife officers noticed an internet ad by someone offering a mounted set of moose antlers for sale. They tracked down a 19 year old student who had bought the antlers at an antique shop for use as a prop in a school play, then tried to re-sell them.

The kid was issued a $250 ticket for illegally selling wildlife and decided to fight it. The justice of the peace threw this one out on the common law principal of triviality.

What would have happened with a similar case in Alberta is a moot point, because our Wildlife Act does not deal with parts of wildlife in its prohibitions against trafficking in wildlife, a serious defect, in my opinion.

There is a major market available for mounted big game trophies. Step into a big box Cabelas or Bass Pro store and you will be met with walls, cliffs, jungles of outstanding mounted big game trophies, all bought for very big bucks, either from the original hunters, or from subsequent owners.

Cabelas, for example, own the mount of the Boone and Crockett number one typical mule deer taken by Doug Burris Jr. in Colorado in 1972, probably bought for huge bucks.

The one big game trophy so outstanding that it will probably never be surpassed, is the #1 B&C non-typical mule deer buck taken by Ed Broder at Chip Lake, Alberta in 1926.

After Ed’s death and a long, sordid, ugly court case among his children that ended in 2004, this absolutely stunning Alberta trophy was sold to Don Schaufler, a Billings, Montana antler buyer for $225,000. Saskite Milo Hansen still owns his world record typical white tail, taken near Biggar in 1993, and wealthy American, Guinn Crousen still owns the world record big horn sheep he bought and shot on Luscar Mountain, Alberta in 2000.

Aside from snipping the occasional supply of prime fly tying materials from groundhogs, foxes, badgers and that ilk, even skunks, my major road kill event came several years ago when a whitetail buck with the best rack I have ever seen on a living animal all but totaled my beloved diesel 1987 Landcruiser, then disappeared into a huge roadside tangle of shoulder high sweet clover.

Briefly I considered following and harvesting that huge rack. But no, it was pitch dark in July: no season, no tag; totally illegal.

Besides, if he was not really dead, just hurting and furious, the buck, in the thick cover and dark could easily skewer me like so much shish kebob … road kill a la Robert.

The next day, broad daylight showed someone else had found the big buck and hauled him away.

Bob Scammell is an award-winning outdoors writer living in Red Deer.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Alberta is set to join three other provinces in exploring the feasibility of small modular reactors as a clean energy option. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Four provinces to sign memorandum of understanding to explore small nuclear reactors

Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick sign memorandum of understanding

FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2016, file photo, Chris Kempczinski, then-incoming president of McDonald’s USA, speaks during a presentation at a McDonald’s restaurant in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood. On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, McDonald’s said the company will mandate worker training to combat harassment, discrimination and violence in its restaurants worldwide starting in 2022. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
McDonald’s to mandate anti-harassment training worldwide

New standards starting in January 2022

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircrafts are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet says it will extend its temporary suspension of international sun flights to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean until June 4. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
WestJet extends temporary suspension of international sun flights until June

Customers with affected itineraries will be notified of cancellations

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, right, and United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken participate in a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, April 14, 2021. United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Brussels on Wednesday for talks with European and NATO allies about Afghanistan, Ukraine and other matters. (Kenzo Tribouillard, Pool via AP)
US co-ordinates Afghanistan pullout with NATO withdrawal

Attacks on U.S. troops have largely paused but that Taliban attacks on the Afghans increased

Demonstrators take cover from crowd-dispersal munitions from police outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department while protesting the shooting death of Daunte Wright, late Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Minnesota shooting charging decision awaited, protests go on

Police and protesters faced off once again after nightfall Tuesday

In this Nov. 12, 1995, file photo, Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy looks on during the second quarter of the Bills game against the Atlanta Falcons at Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Bill Sikes, File
Former Alouettes head coach Marv Levy tops 2021 Canadian Football Hall of Fame class

The ‘21 class will boost the Hall of Fame’s membership to 316

Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, provides an update on health system preparations in Nova Scotia for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, in Halifax on Friday, March 6, 2020. Strang says plans are in place to stage the women’s world hockey championship in the province next month with limited spectators.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Nova Scotia plans to allow limited crowds at women’s world hockey championship

All 10 teams in Halifax and Truro must participate in a 14-day quarantine

”Kim’s Convenience” cast member Andrew Phung poses in this undated handout photo. “Kim’s Convenience” has just ended but Andrew Phung is already “knee-deep in ideas and stories” for his next project, “Run the Burbs.” The Calgary-raised actor, who played comical car-rental employee Kimchee on “Kim’s,” co-created the upcoming comedy series and will star in it as a stay-at-home dad with an entrepreneur wife and two kids. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - CBC
‘Kim’s Convenience’ actor Andrew Phung on crafting his own series, ‘Run the Burbs’

‘Run the Burbs’ production could start in the summer or fall

Canisia Lubrin poses in this undated handout photo. Rising literary talent Canisia Lubrin is among the Canadian finalists for the $65,000 Griffin Poetry Prize. The Griffin Trust announced the three homegrown wordsmiths and four international poets on this year’s short list on Wednesday. Lubrin, who recently received the US$165,000 Windham-Campbell Prize, is nominated for “The Dyzgraphxst” (pronounced diss-graff-ist), published by McClelland and Stewart. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Anna Keenan
Rising writer Canisia Lubrin among Canadian finalists for $65K Griffin Poetry Prize

Griffin will award two winners, one international and one Canadian

A prairie fire in the Burnt Lake district. (Photo by Bert Fors via Red Deer Archives)
Michael Dawe: Fires of spring 1931 in central Alberta

Central Alberta has just come through a relatively warm and dry winter… Continue reading

Gwynne Dyer
Opinion: Boris Johnson is to blame for what’s happening in Ireland

Twenty-three years of peace in Northern Ireland, after a sectarian war that… Continue reading

Canada's Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, fom left, celebrate after winning women's gold medal match against Brazil's team at the Beach Volley Worldtour Major Series, in Vienna, Austria on August 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ronald Zak
Canada’s world champion beach volleyball duo finally getting games before Tokyo

Canada’s world champion beach volleyball duo finally getting games before Tokyo

Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch (24) gets fouled by Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (13) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Bogdanovic, Capela lead Hawks past Raptors 107-103

Bogdanovic, Capela lead Hawks past Raptors 107-103

Most Read