International

No amorous pets within 500 feet of a church, and other weird animal laws

We’re sure there are good reasons behind all of these laws, but they aren’t always obvious

For example, California still has a law on the books making it illegal for animals to mate within 500 feet of a tavern, school or church. Too bad animals can’t read. We’re sure there was a good reason for this law, but we can’t think of one.

California law also bans the feeding of any and all wild animals, which to the shock of many, includes squirrels and birds. The law was written to keep people from using food to lure wild animals out into the open, where they could be more easy killed.

In the case of birds, legislators and wildlife officials wanted to prevent them from being captured for the illegal bird market or killed for their plumage.

All parties pretty much agree that no one is likely to get arrested for having a bird feeder in their backyard. As long as the birds were there anyway, it’s seen as OK to feed them.

The law even extends to protecting their feathers, making it illegal to possess most bird feathers, even if you only picked one up off the ground. While aimed at keeping birds safe, many people feel it is a quill too far, especially with fines ranging from $15,000 to $100,000.

California also has a thing about domesticated ferrets. They’ve been banned as pets for 84 years based on the — some say misguided — premise that ferrets on the loose would destroy the environment.

They wouldn’t, as proven by the 48 other states that permit ferret ownership, but those wanting to legalize the pets have yet to convince state officials of that.. Advocates say that comparing a domesticated ferret to a wild one is like comparing a poodle to a wolf, but officials still fear herds of marauding ferrets would kill birds, prairie dogs and fish.

If you’re caught with a ferret, the animal will be confiscated or you can arrange to have it transported to a ferret sanctuary state, which would be anywhere other than California and Hawaii. You might also receive a $1,000 fine.

Here are some more weird animal laws, originally compiled by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

    • In Illinois, you can’t legally serve whisky to a dog, give it a lighted cigar or take your French poodle to the opera.
    • In Tennessee, state law says you can catch fish with a rod, reel, hook or trotline, but spearing, wrestling and using mind control is forbidden.
    • In West Virginia, it’s perfectly legal to take roadkill home for dinner. In fact, the Department of Transportation road clean-up crew appreciates the help.
    • In Virginia, roadkill takeout also is fine, but there’s no hunting on Sundays, except for raccoons. They can be hunted any old day of the week.
    • It’s a misdemeanor in California to shoot an animal from a moving vehicle, and it becomes a federal case if you shoot a whale or other marine mammal.
    • In Kentucky, if you dye chicks, ducks or bunnies for Easter, you must sell them in groups of six, nothing less.
    • If you have an urge to take a moose on a plane and then push it out during the flight, know that it’s illegal in Alaska.
    • Alabama has a law making it illegal to force bears to wrestle each other.
    • North Dakota says you can’t keep a skunk as a pet, which all in all is an excellent law.
    • We’re not sure if this has been a problem in Oklahoma, but lawmakers there have made it illegal to bring a fish in a fish bowl onto a public bus. We’re not sure if carrying it in your pocket would be OK.

Source: The Mercury News (USA)