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Legislation Emphasizes Fair Chase Hunting And Amends Game Breeding Regulations

February 24, 2006

The Alabama Legislature has passed a bill that emphasizes the rules of “fair chase” hunting and amends the statute that provides for the breeding of protected game animals. The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Senator Jack Biddle and in the House by Representative Blaine Galliher. It now goes to the governor for his signature.

According to Conservation Commissioner Barnett Lawley, the purpose of this bill is to maintain the integrity and credibility of fair chase hunting. “The opportunity for the animal to escape is critical for fair chase hunting,” he said. “This is essential if hunting is to continue to enjoy the support of the vast majority of the public, both hunters and non-hunters. This support is critical to the best long-term interests of hunters, the resource and the public.” The legislation accomplishes the following in regards to fair chase hunting:

  • Makes it unlawful to hunt or offer the opportunity to hunt game animals that are not provided a reasonable opportunity to evade the hunter.
  • Makes it unlawful to guarantee an individual animal to a hunter.
  • Prohibits using computer aided and remote controlled devices to kill game.
  • Prohibits the killing, under the name of “hunting,” of exotic animals such as African lions, tigers and elephants and other animals that have been used in circuses and other exhibits.
  • Provides for penalties of $2,000 to $5,000 and up to 30 days imprisonment for violations.

Senate Bill 137 also amends the statute that provides for the breeding of protected game animals. The old statute had been in effect for 70 years and was last amended in 1940.

“The intent of this bill is to update the old statute to reflect the financial and biological realities of today,” said Senator Biddle. “The overwhelming majority of Alabamians support lawful, ethical hunting. This legislation is critical to continued public support. Conservation officials say that the development and present-day interest in game breeding, especially for deer, could not have been foreseen in 1940.”

Commissioner Lawley expressed appreciation for the work done by Senator Biddle and Representative Galliher. “We appreciate their efforts in securing the passage of this important legislation,” he said.

Wildlife Chief Gary Moody emphasizes that this new legislation in no way changes the ban on importation of deer from other states that has been in effect since 1973. “It is still illegal to import deer and other cervids into Alabama,” he said.

            In regard to breeding, the legislation will accomplish the following:

  • Increases the license fee for breeding deer and other protected game animals from $10 to a minimum of $250 and a maximum of $1,000 based on the size of the operation.
  • Grants the Commissioner of Conservation the authority to promulgate necessary regulations to effectively regulate this business. Regulations are currently being drafted to safeguard the health of protected game species, both wild and captive bred.
  • Prohibits persons who have been convicted of illegally importing animals from engaging in this business. In 2002, the Legislature stiffened the penalty for illegal importation of animals, such as deer, to as much as $5,000, to protect native wildlife from the introduction of dangerous diseases such as chronic wasting disease.
  • Allows for the possession and breeding of non-indigenous animals lawfully possessed prior to the effective date of this act.
  • Provides for penalties of up to $2,000 and revocation of license privileges for repeated violations. There was no penalty provided for violation of the old statute.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

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