Can I legally shoot a suffering/dying animal?

Can I legally shoot a suffering/dying animal?

This is a discussion on Can I legally shoot a suffering/dying animal? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I hit a deer with my truck last Saturday. I was going about 75mph on the turnpike between Tulsa, OK and Springdale, AR at about ...

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Thread: Can I legally shoot a suffering/dying animal?

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    Member Array SigHawk's Avatar
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    Can I legally shoot a suffering/dying animal?

    I hit a deer with my truck last Saturday. I was going about 75mph on the turnpike between Tulsa, OK and Springdale, AR at about 9:30 at night. I noticed something sprint across the highway and go down into the ditch. As my eyes followed it, my back seat passenger yells out "deer!" I pulled left a little, missing the second deer, but I tagged the butt of a third deer just under my passenger side headlight and ran over it. Seems like they always travel in multiples.

    After pulling over and making sure my truck was driveable (tore off a chunk of bumper and the inside wheel well cover), I pulled a u-turn through the median. This is illegal I know, but there was a long stretch of flat road with a mile visibility in either direction, and there was zero traffic. And of course my wife was insisting that we check on the deer. I went back to where I thought I had hit the deer and pulled across the median again and pulled onto the shoulder. I grabbed my flashlight and found the small baby fawn in the ditch with a compound fracture in its back leg.

    Fortunately, it was not suffering and had died. It was bleeding from its head and was not breathing, and its tongue was hanging out of its mouth.

    My question is this. Had the deer still been alive and clearly suffering, I would have likely shot it in the head with my .40 after making sure there was no traffic coming in either direction that would see the gunfire. Would this have been illegal and/or stupid?
    Last edited by SigHawk; January 11th, 2012 at 01:34 PM. Reason: spelling
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    Member Array DeathRales's Avatar
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    Don't waste a bullet, slit it's throat.
    msgt/ret and Guest1 like this.

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    Senior Member Array adric22's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SigHawk View Post
    My question is this. Had the deer still been alive and clearly suffering, I would have likely shot it in the head with my .40 after making sure there was no traffic coming in either direction that would see the gunfire. Would this have been illegal and/or stupid?
    I would think if you were inside of some city limits, there are laws against discharging a firearm. I'm not really qualified to answer your question on whether it is legal to shoot the animal or not. But I know under the same circumstances you mentioned, I would have done it myself. I can't stand to see an animal suffer, especially when there is no hope for it to get better.
    "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." -Plato

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    Member Array Lyndo's Avatar
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    According to the laws in Oklahoma regarding your permit it would be technically illegal, because there was no threat to you. It would be totally ethical in my opinion and most officers in this part of the country would agree with you, but technically it is not legal.
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    Ex Member Array GlockZombie's Avatar
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    Unless you're in a densely populated area, I think most LEO's would turn a blind eye to an obvious act of compassion. Now if you're holding a spotlight and a 30-30 when they pull up things might go differently!

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    Senior Member Array kb2wji's Avatar
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    I hate watching an animal suffer, but its still a better idea to just call the local wildlife agency, or a LEO.

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    VIP Member Array livewire's Avatar
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    Here in WA, you can only do so if you're authorized by the State Department of Fish and Wildlife... but I doubt that anyone's going to do any investigating on roadkill...
    There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap - ballot - jury - ammo

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    Member Array ponchsox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kb2wji View Post
    I hate watching an animal suffer, but its still a better idea to just call the local wildlife agency, or a LEO.
    ^ This

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    Distinguished Member Array 4my sons's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlockZombie View Post
    Unless you're in a densely populated area, I think most LEO's would turn a blind eye to an obvious act of compassion. Now if you're holding a spotlight and a 30-30 when they pull up things might go differently!
    I would tend to agree with the above. Here in VA, open carry is legal, so you don't need a permit to have a gun in your vehicle. As long as you are in a reasonably clear of any homes or populated areas. That is in no way legal advice.

    Intersted in what some of the LEO's on here say.


    IIRC, it was a wounded deer just like you described years ago that made the State Police rethink the 10MM (i don't remember which gun) when the officer's gun failed to fire. Glad it was on a wounded deer and not defending his or someone else's life.
    "fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen." [Warren v. District of Columbia,(D.C. Ct. of Ap., 1981)]
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    Senior Member Array Sig35seven's Avatar
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    Back up and run over it again.
    "Confidence is food for the wise man but liquor for the fool"

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    VIP Member Array livewire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sig35seven View Post
    Back up and run over it again.
    Nah... broken ribs are hard on tires.

    /bunny huggers everywhere just flinched...
    There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap - ballot - jury - ammo

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    I was recently called to a deer with 2 broken rear legs, it had been caught in a fence. The gentleman who called me found it and cut it out of the fence, he said he didn't realize until after he cut it out that the legs were broken. He asked me that same question, would he have been legal to shoot the deer to end the suffering? I told him that both the City I work for and the county we live in, (the deer was on the boundary) have laws against discharge, so, technically it would have been illegal, but there are none here who would even consider charges against someone who ended the suffering of a broken animal.
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    A couple of months ago had a deer hit in front of our house. It was injured and in the ditch flailing around and unable to get up. I called the Sheriff’s Office and was informed by the dispatcher that it would be acceptable to shoot the deer and she just needed an address to send DOT to pick up the carcass. I do live out in the county and not in town so that does make some difference.
    When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.
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    Distinguished Member Array bigmacque's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kb2wji View Post
    I hate watching an animal suffer, but its still a better idea to just call the local wildlife agency, or a LEO.
    This.

    They'd probably tell you to go ahead and do it to save them the trip out there, but at least they won't come along, find a bullet in the deer, and start looking for the person that shot it.
    I'm in favor of gun control -- I think every citizen should have control of a gun.
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    I hit a very small fawn ( 50 lbs. ) and it was still alive. Since there was alot of damage to my car I decided to call the sheriff. I live in a town ( not a village or city) but it was in a residential area. The fawn was lying in the bushes and blood was coming out of its nose,both legs broken, very heavy breathing, seemed like lots of pain. The deputy took what seemed like forever to get there. Once on the scene, The deputy called it in got permision and drew his pistol, made a very nice clean head shot from 3 yards.
    The deer got up and started to bolt and quiver as the nerves went thru the system. Then just fell down and was dead. I have seen the nerves do that when hunting. The Deputy was in tears and I had to calm him down. He told me he never shot an animal before.
    If that ever happens again I would slit the throat right away, not shoot it, due to wildlife and gaming rules. But also I am concerned about the lack of training/experiance from the deputy and question if he would be capable of protecting me or my family. What good are a bunch of cops who can only write speeding tickets and accident reports?

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