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New York Legislation

Sponsor(s): Assm. Linda Rosenthal (D-67), Senator Phil Boyle (R-4)

A. 238/S. 4347: Increasing Penalties for Cruelty to Wildlife

Born Free USA position: Support

Update: Referred to Codes Committee 4/23/13

Bill description: This bill would extend New York’s felony animal cruelty statute to protect wildlife in addition to domestic animals. This important legislation would amend Section 353-a (commonly known as “Buster’s Law”) by increasing the penalty for aggravated cruelty to wildlife, defined as the intentional killing or injuring of wildlife through acts intended to cause harm or performed in a particularly sadistic, depraved manner. The first offense will remain a misdemeanor, but the second offense will become a felony. This bill will not affect regular hunting or agricultural practices.

Background: Each day wildlife in New York are injured or killed at the hands of violent individuals who face inadequate or non-existent punishment under the law. In 2011, wildlife rehabilitators rescued a hawk that had been smacked with a shovel and had his talons cut off. Though the perpetrator was found, no legal action was taken. Just this month, a man was charged with a misdemeanor for beating an opossum to death in Queens last September. In another horrifying incident, two boys set a live turtle on fire before killing it by impaling it with a metal pole. The punishment for these acts of cruelty should be equal to the punishment for perpetrating such crimes against companion animals.

Allowing cruelty to wildlife to be prosecuted as a felony will not only increase the safety of our precious wild animal populations, but it also will contribute to the general safety of the public. Numerous studies, including recent findings by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, show a link between the abuse and torture or animals and violent crimes committed against other people. Further, individuals who abuse animals often abuse children, spouses or elderly people as well. Cracking down on crimes against animals is an important part of decreasing violence in the community.
By passing A-238 New York will join 38 other states in including wildlife in their aggravated cruelty statutes.

Read the full text and track its progress here.

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