Unlawful Taking

In most states it is unlawful for a person to take any wildlife that is the property of that state without first obtaining a specified license to take a specified animal during a specified time period. Wildlife that is the property of a state is defined in several states as "all wildlife within this state not lawfully acquired and held by private ownership is declared to be the property of this state." At first glance, the law appears simple: Purchase a license to hunt the animal you desire, and you are in the clear. However, the law is much broader in its coverage than it appears. Individuals may be charged under this statute even if they are unaware that they have violated it. In a sense this law operates in many states in such a way that essentially holds violators strictly liable. For instance, in Colorado, if a hunter purchases a license for a bull elk during the first part of hunting season for a specified Game Management Unit, and he shoots a bull elk during that season, but accidentally, unknown to him, in the incorrect Game Management Unit, he will be subject to fines, license losses and possible criminal charges under the illegal possession and taking statute of Colorado (33-6-109).