The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

4 March 2003

It'll cost a few bucks

According to David Pearce, a state representative from Warrensburg, Missouri, the Show-Me State is not doing enough to limit the size of the state's deer herd, and he has introduced a bill (HB 386) to make the Department of Conservation liable for the first $250 of damage caused by deer/motor vehicle collisions.

Pearce himself has run into this situation; last year he hit a deer on Missouri 13 not far from home. Total damages came to $2400, of which Pearce's out-of-pocket expense was, um, $250. The Missouri Highway Patrol reported 5482 collisions with animals during 2001.

Conservation objects to the bill, saying that it would distract them from their primary function, to manage the herd; Pearce counters that if they'd managed the herd better, there'd be no need for the bill.

Tomorrow, HB 386 gets its first committee hearing.

Posted at 7:22 AM to Political Science Fiction


Just another big spender republican wanting the state to bail out car owners on the backs of the sportsmen who contribute to the conservation fund through the purchase of licenses. If the legislature wants to subsidize the general public, they should use general revenue dollars.

Man, isn't it amazing how the rhetoric of state legislatures and dedicated conservation/wildlife moneys come back to you after more than 10 years?

I worked with the legislature and the Department of Natural Resources in Ohio and we heard the same arguments there. I find it most interesting that a Republican is pushing this legislation. I guess though, I shouldn't be too surprised seeing how he had a personal experience with a deer.

Posted by: Martin at 8:08 AM on 4 March 2003

If that deer were privately owned you know the owner would be liable...

Posted by: Kevin McGehee at 12:19 PM on 4 March 2003

Yeah, if the deer were privately owned the owner might be liable. But deer aren't "publicly" owned. The state "manages" the herd - the state sets deer season, bag limits, etc. So I guess if one equates the managing of a non-domesticated herd of deer to "ownership" of the deer, then I guess the state should be liable. Then the question becomes the use of "conservation" dollars as opposed to general revenue dollars. Using dollars raised through the sale of hunting/fishing licenses to fund a social program is, in my opinion, a misuse of those "conservation" dollars. Because they benefit a subset of the general public, conservation/wildlife funds with dedicated sources are generally established to specifically fund programs from other than general revenues. The argument is that any program that is a "social program" in that it benefits the entire general public should be funded by general revenues raised from the general public, not from sportsmen.

Posted by: Martin at 1:29 PM on 4 March 2003

Point taken.

Posted by: Kevin McGehee at 4:42 PM on 4 March 2003

BTW, Marty, my implication was not that the government owns the deer -- although by law it is possible for legal fictions such as corporations to "own" things, in reality they are only proxies -- fiduciary agents -- for groups of individuals, which through owning shares (in the case of a corporation) hold a collective ownership of the corporation's assets, and a collective liability for its debts. Since the ownership is collective rather than direct, the assets and debts have to be administered by an agency. That's also how governments work.

In theory, everything has to be owned by someone -- if it isn't, it soon will be if only by right of possession. I think it's reasonable to regard unharvested wild game as being owned collectively by the residents of the state in which the animals happen to be at a given moment. In practice, of course, such fluidity of ownership is possible only because possession is only potential so long as the animal can move about freely.

Something like this principle is why us right-wingers are so fond of saying about tax monies, "It isn't the government's money."

Posted by: Kevin McGehee at 4:51 PM on 4 March 2003