Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Is our government more dangerous than a rattlesnake?

Yes. Yes it is.

I saw a rattlesnake this weekend right up next to the swimming dock at an acquaintance's cottage, where I had been invited to come hang out.  Large as life, a Massassauga rattler on the front yard. There were kids and dogs present. I was of the opinion that perhaps the front yard was not the place for venomous serpents. I was informed that the fine for disturbing said snake was more than the cottage was worth.

Today I looked it up. Turns out the max penalty for messing with one of those dog/kid killing machines is $250,000 AND/OR five years in jail. Now, to be clear, this is not the penalty for going out into a provincial park and killing one for sale. Nuh uh. This is the penalty for -moving- one off your front lawn, or "harassing" it, or capturing and releasing it someplace else (like, OFF your front lawn) or crushing the damn thing with a rock before it kills your two year old.

Here's what's happening to a guy who apparently did just that:

Whoever killed a rattlesnake while camping on Beausoleil Island could be facing a fine of $250,000 and up to five years in jail.
National Parks staff is investigating the crime after a visitor beat a massassauga rattlesnake to death while on the island for the long weekend. On July 1, staff in the Honeymoon Bay Campground at Georgian Bay Islands National Park found the dead snake. The massassauga rattlesnake is native to the area, and is an indicator of a healthy environment. The snake is classified as a threatened species, because its numbers are dwindling.
"We did an autopsy, and found broken bones, and the internal organs were pulverized. This was more than just someone prodding it, to frighten the snake," said Hugh Bremner, manager of resource conservation with the national park.
He said the body is now being held as evidence.

"They are timid, and avoid people if possible. They would only bite if they were provoked, or threatened."
There are two different ways the culprit could be charged, either a summary conviction, or an indictment. "A summary conviction is similar to a speeding ticket, and the charge is up to a $150,000 fine, or six months in jail, or both. An indictment is more serious, and has a maximum fine of $250,000, or five years in jail, or both. Both types charges can be held with trials."
$250,000 fine possible for snake killer.

Now they've picked out a patsy.

A Midland man will be appearing in court on Sept. 16, to face a charge of poaching, after an Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake was killed over the Canada Day weekend this year.
Mark McIntyre, senior park warden with the Georgian Bay Islands National Park, and its law enforcement specialist, said a man was charged after the rare slithering reptile was found dead at the park on July 1.
"He was taken into custody on Aug. 3, and was released, and charged with poaching in a national park, under the National Parks Act," said McIntyre.
The man, whose name has not been released to the press, can face a maximum fine of $250,000 and/or five years in jail, if faced with an indictment.

Get that? "Poaching" is the charge. Ministry of Natural Resources is taking this to the limit, even though whoever killed the thing clearly crushed it with a rock or other handy field expedient. By their own autopsy, we know this. They're "sending us a message" in legal parlance.

Message I'm getting? They spent more money on a dead snake than they do on a murder up in Jane and Finch, Toronto. Plus I seem to recall that some punk who recently got himself killed at Square One Mississauga had just got out of jail after less than five years on a murder rap. So one snake is considered to be worth more to the legal system than one dead human.

This is what I saw. Nice snakey, don't bite the child who's walking by...
Now, as for the behavior of the actual snake? "They are timid, and avoid people if possible. They would only bite if they were provoked, or threatened." Not wanting to be some kind of anti-government disturber of the peace or anything, but this description does not fit what I saw. What I saw was a venomous snake, coiled up in full-on strike posture, inching forward toward humans. We backed away from it, it came forward. As well, it did not have a proper rattle. Its rattle had been lost or broken off at some point, so there was no warning. The only reason we saw it was because it was sitting out on the rocks in full view, right in the middle of the high-traffic path to the swim dock.

This is not the behavior of a shy, retiring, fearful animal. More like the cranky predator that's boss of the block kinda animal. Mayyyyybe the whole official line about the "
they would only bite if they were provoked, or threatened" thing might be slightly oversold? A little? Just to keep the proletariat firmly under thumb when they belong?  Just sayin'.

Remember the three "S"s my friends. Most important of which is the last one, "shut up!"

The Phantom

Belated update: Greetings to Black Mamba and visitors from Blazing Cat Fur.

UpdateII: Also we do have one typical smarmy liberal troll in the comments:
Anonymous said...
kill the snake - its self defense, they are a dangerous predator. If the park warden objects then he should be killed too.
Yeeeeah, because killing the snake and the park warden is what is being suggested here? Or is it more the knee-jerk stupidity of your typical Torontonian who couldn't tell a Massassauga rattler from a Mississauga hooker?  The type of pencil-necked black t-shirt/black jeans doofus who cannot separate the good idea of protecting a rare species from the bad idea of making the punishment for MURDER lighter than the punishment for killing a reptile. See them all over the place in Hogtown.

Hey doofus! How would you feel about a $250,000 fine for chasing a raccoon out of your garbage cans? Oh wait, you probably don't own a garmage can, right?  This is a better one: $250,000 fine and five years in jail for failure to show up at Church on Sunday three weeks in a row. Yeah, Now we're on to something!


WiFi Lunchbox Guy said...

Would the second one be poSSStage? ;)

Anonymous said...

Northern water snake would be my guess from your description.

black mamba said...

Krikey. May I post this over at BCF?

The Phantom said...

Absolutely, Mamba. People should know about this.

Anonymous said...

kill the snake - its self defense, they are a dangerous predator. If the park warden objects then he should be killed too.

Van Grungy said...

shoot, shovel/burn and shut up.

The Phantom said...

I see Mr. Anonymous came over here to troll from Blazing Cat Fur. Just to be clear, not "watersnake" guy.

Dear Mr. Anonymous Penis, is it reasonable that the penalty for killing a snake exceed the penalty for killing a man? Hmmmn?

Oh and btw, is it reasonable that provincial park workers be kitted out like SWAT cops? With black flak vets, military-style uniforms, collapsible batons, handcuffs and pepper spray? Because that's what the summer students at Ontario provincial parks are wearing this year. Looks butch on a 110 pound eighteen year old girl, let me tell you. I didn't know they made body armor that small.

Its been a few years since I was camping, but back in the dark ages of 2004 they used to get by with a green shirt and a pair of brown pants.