- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2005

In the Record, a Canadian newspaper seen in the towns of Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo, Ontario, writer Bill Thompson warns fishermen that they could face cruelty charges if Bill C-50 gets approved. Should it pass — it’s within the realm of possibility — catching a fish or baiting a hook may put you in hot water.

“How would you like to be charged with cruelty to animals for catching and safely releasing a fish?” Thompson asked in a recent column. Then he added, “Crazy you say, or maybe columnist sensationalism. Well, believe it or not, it could happen if the latest version of Bill C-50 is passed.”

This version attempts to pass animal cruelty legislation that dates back decades in different forms and bills, and C-50 would open the door for the animal rights community to push for precedent-setting prosecution of anglers, hunters, farmers or others.

A Canadian Senate committee concluded that even if anglers and hunters were licensed, Bill C-50 might not exclude them from possible prosecution for practicing what has been legal and a tradition.

Under the bill’s proposed wording, both domestic and wild animals will be taken out of the property section of the Criminal Code and now be seen more as “beings.” The bill also would make killing an animal “brutally or viciously” illegal, regardless of whether the animal dies immediately.

Said Thompson: “The two words ‘brutally’ and ‘viciously’ are the problem because the government really doesn’t define what the words actually mean. And while most people believe that they have a fair and moral understanding of the meaning of the words, many in the animal rights community — like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — brutal and vicious [also] means catch-and-release fishing, any hunting, penning animals and the list goes on.”

Thompson is right. The PETA organization believes rats and little children should be treated as equals, so imagine how they feel about hunters shooting a deer or a mallard duck.

This Canadian legislative proposal also calls for increases in fines and penalties for animal cruelty, and no one would object to that. However, unless the bill carefully spells out who’s who and what is what, if passed it could lead to “legal nightmares for anglers and hunters as court doors will be open for PETA and other animal rights fanatics to seek well-funded prosecution,” Thompson said.

If such outrageous legislation passes, who’s to say it won’t be introduced in the United States by some elected loony who has the financial support of animal rights organizations?

Did we err? — David LeNard writes, “I need to call you out on your line on Virginia’s Chronic Wasting Disease restrictions. [The Washington Times, Nov. 2.] “Yes, whole carcasses are banned, but boned-out meat and taxidermy is allowed.”

LeNard says boned-out meat that is cut and wrapped (either commercially or privately) is legal to bring into Virginia. So are quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached, hides and capes, clean skulls with antlers attached and finished taxidermy work.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com

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