Should citizens or hunters be allowed to put down suffering animals that have been struck by automobiles?
What is the moral responsibility of a citizen or hunter when confronted with severely injured and suffering animals that have been involved in car vs. animal collisions?
In many states it is illegal for people who are not law enforcement officers (LEO) to dispatch wounded animals. But when an animal is suffering, is it not incumbent upon any person who has the ability to put the animal down to do so?
Steve West was on a mule deer and elk hunt in Utah when one day during their hunt he drove upon an auto/deer collision, where a woman had struck a young mule deer buck. The woman was okay, but the deer was seriously hurt, was lying alive in the middle of the road, and was suffering mightily.
West was about to dispatch the animal, but when he contacted the authorities he was informed that only a law enforcement officer could legally shoot the deer. It was illegal for West to put the deer down.
He – and the suffering mule deer – had to wait for more than an hour before an officer happened to drive by and was flagged down by West. The LEO then shot the deer and put it out of its misery.
The incident affected West greatly, as it would any hunter. To see an animal suffer unnecessarily is a heart-wrenching thing.
Last May the same thing happened to me, as my family was returning home from a trip out west when we too came upon an auto vs. deer collision. The whitetail was severely injured but was still alive. I called the police department and fortunately they had an officer who was in the area. He arrived quickly and dispatched the deer, and thanked me for doing the right thing.
But had circumstances been such that no officer could respond in a timely manner, I struggled with idea that I would have to shoot the deer myself and be in violation of the law.
I understand why these kinds of laws are in place, but they really make little sense to me. If a citizen, or especially a hunter, has the means with which to end an animal’s suffering, is it not right that he or she should be allowed to do so?
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