As pointed out by Kieran O�Malley on 02/20/2002, there is a �continuous open
season� on the huting of English (House) Sparrows, European Starlings, and
crows in West Virginia. In the case of the last species, this probably
reflects a long tradition in the State of shooting crows as �vermin.� The
historical literature contains numerous references to hunters shooting 100
or more crows in a single day. This was considred great sport by some.
Crows have been Federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act since
1972, but the regulations do include a provision for huntng. Briefly, crows
may be taken only in accordance with laws or regulations issued by the
individual States. Federal regulations stipulate that State statutes for
crow hunting must contain the following limitations: (1) a maximum season of
124 days each calendar year, and (2) no hunting during the peak crow nesting
period. State regulations for crow hunting may be more, but not less,
restrictive, than those prescribed by Federal law.
My personal interpretation of the above is that the State of West Virginia,
by failing to establish specific regulations, is not in compliance with
Federal regulations for hunting crows. Consequently (in my personal
opinion), any person who shoots a crow in WV could be subject to Federal
prosecution under the MBTA, regardless of what State statutes say. If you
feel strongly about the situation as it currently exists, I suggest writing
to the WVDNR or you State delegation suggesting that State regulations be
revised in accordance with Federal law.
The situation with House Sparrows and European Starlings is different, with
neither being protected by Federal law. Thus, it is within the authority of
the State of West Virginia to declare a �continuous open season� (i.e., no
protection from shooting, trapping, killing, etc.) for these exotic species.
Even though I understand the reasons why, I find it ironic that hunting
exotic Ring-necked Pheasants is strictly regulated in West Virginia, while
hunting native American Crows is not.
John L. Trapp
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