North Lake Tahoe Bonanza editorial: Jail sentence right call in bear trap case
EDITOR’S NOTE: Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza editorial staff.
We’d like to applaud the recent decision from Washoe County District Court Judge Janet J. Berry to strike down appeals from Season and Cheryl Morrison regarding their roles in the fall 2013 bear trap tampering case here in Incline Village.
It’s no secret that relations between officials with the Nevada Department of Wildlife and passioned pro-wildlife and pro-bear residents throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin have been strained for several years now. In the simplest of descriptions, many residents strongly disagree with NDOW’s tactics in terms of handling bears; how game wardens label some as “nuisances”; and how bruins are trapped and released.
While we value the ability to express different opinions, what we do not condone is for people to take the law into their hands to prove their points — particularly if those actions could bring harm both to other humans and to the animals themselves.
Berry’s appeal denial not only affirms last October’s appropriate ruling and sentencing from Incline Village Judge E. Alan Tiras, including 30 days in jail for Season Morrison, it also sets the bar with a first-ever precedent for Nevada and Lake Tahoe: If you try to tamper with NDOW traps in an effort to save bears from capture, you will be punished.
That said, we do feel the Morrisons’ argument that current Nevada law is “ambiguous” in its definition of traps has merit, and perhaps a rewording of the law could be something for the Nevada Legislature to review at a future session.
But a legal maneuver regarding how we understand a word or two in a decades-old law should not trump what was made very clear in the case: The Morrisons were busted illegally tampering with a bear trap, and they deserve to face the consequences for that transgression.
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