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Annual DNR check (2 1/2 hours)

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by trophy, Mar 2, 2007.

  1. trophy

    trophy New Member

    It's that time of year again. A fellow taxidermist called and tolld me DNR was at his shop this week. Low and behold I received a call from a private # stating he was a DNR officer and would like to stop by my shop in a 1/2 hr. to do my annual inspection. This was a first, a call before them stopping by.Now nervous, like a police officer behind you while driving I had to wait for his arrival. Arriving at 6:30 pm he inspected the books then wanted to see the racks. After pulling some random racks down from my rafters he wanted to cross check them with my books. One rack was a old one from a friend dating back to 00'. I could not find my 00' book at the time, even though it was tagged he wanted to see it in the book. We proceeded to my walk in freezer to check my waterfowl. He picked 6 random birds out ,checked the tags then wanted to see them in my books. I was able to point them right out luckily.Now 9:00 pm. 2 1/2 hours later he was satisfied with the inspection but I needed to find my 00' log book and contact him tommorrow to show him that antler entry. I was able to find it soon after he left only to have to deal with him again tommorrow. Iam not sure how long you have to keep your books but I now know if you have any animals in your shop on display or unfinished they have to be in a availible log book and tagged. I did not receive any fines or warnings yet and dont expect any after finding my book but just wanted to pass on that little info. 2 1/2 hrs seems a little long for a inspection when they were normally 15-20 min. max. I now miss my old officer that did my previous inspections. Good luck to everyone out there it is that time of year!
  2. Paul C

    Paul C New Member

    Soooo........this officer effectively shut down your business and LIFE for 2 1/2 hours while he did an INSPECTION???
    When are you people going to learn that what these officers are doing to you is ILLEGAL? He didn't "inspect" anything. He SEARCHED randomly around the private areas of your shop demanding you prove yourself innocent.

    Tell me something Trophy, do you allow the general public to enter your walk in freezer? Is 9:00 PM part of your normal business hours? If you answered "NO" to either of those questions your Constitutional Rights have been violated! Would you allow a police officer to stop you on the highway "for no reason" and allow him to "inspect" your vehicle for 2 1/2 hours? If the police showed up at 6:30 PM saying they wanted to search your house to make sure you weren't storing any cocaine would you allow them?

    There is another post in the Industry section titled "Taxidermy audits" that you should read. And then you should search the Archives using the terms "Mike Showers" and "Warrantless searches" and do some reading.
    By allowing these officers to continually violate your civil and Constitutional Rights you are emboldening them to do more and more. The more you let them get away with the more they will do.

    You are only required to keep FEDERAL records for a period of five years! What the hell is a STATE officer demanding records from seven years ago for?

    Finally, to end my rant, Trophy what you just went through was NOT an "inspection"-- it was a WARRANTLESS SEARCH and was a very clear violation of your Constitutional Rights! Until taxidermists WAKE UP and stop allowing the abuse of their Rights simply because the Officer says he can do it, this kind of thing will continue to happen and taxidermists will continue to be thought of as criminals. In fact, Trophy, child molesters are afforded more rights than you were!

    The post in the Industry section entitled "Taxidermy audits" was posted by a taxidermist in Wisconsin. I checked the Laws and Regulations regarding taxidermy in Wisconsin and they are VERY CLEAR. A DNR officer is ONLY allowed to inspect a taxidermist's records during "normal business hours". He may ask to see a specimen included in the log but he CANNOT enter any area of the studio normally closed to the public without a warrant. The Wisconsin Taxidermist Assoc. had meetings with the DNR on this subject and the rules are very clear and concise and the WTA has published, on several occasions, the Rules regarding taxidermy regulations and taxidermist's Rights.
    Trophy, if you are not in Wisconsin I would urge you to demand that your state taxidermy association get clarification of the taxidermy laws from the DNR and that they FIGHT for your Rights. If you ARE from Wisconsin......I don't feel sorry for you a bit because you should KNOW what your Rights are.

    Sorry for the long rant but this kind of thing really gets my blood boiling! Sometimes taxidermists really are their own worst enemies!

    Paul Czarnecki
    PTA President
    Skullery likes this.

  3. trophy

    trophy New Member

    Wow.... I never looked at it that way. My business hours are 11am-7pm. I tried to take the path with least resistance.Almost like the officer that pulls you over and ask if you have any drugs, guns, handgrenades or anything he should be aware of. You answer no and he asks if you would have any problem with him searching your vehicle. If your doing nothing wrong you have no problem letting him search.Dealing with DNR and any law enforcement I feel its easier to cooperate than make things hard on myself. Your right we should not have to do some juggling act to please this double edge sword. Iam from maryland and this is my livelihood. Just wonder what would have happened if I would have denied him his "Inspection"? After a breif search I found this in some Maryland law archives :

    Said licensee shall at all reasonable hours allow any officer
    charged with the enforcement of the game and fish laws of this
    State to enter and inspect the premises where operations are being
    carried on and to inspect records.

    The question is where is the line between inspecting and doing a full blown search? Iam a taxidermist not a lawyer I wish I knew all my rights.
  4. Paul C

    Paul C New Member

    There is a simple answer to your question. When he showed up for the "inspection" all you needed to do was show him your records. When you presented him your log book all you had to say was if he had any items he would like to see to simply let you know and you would be happy to produce them for him. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should he have been allowed in your back room or in ANY areas not normally open to the public. The Officer already knows that---he is counting on you NOT knowing it so he pushes the issue to see just what you'll "let" him do.
    If you give him permission to enter a restricted area (and your back room and walk in freezer is considered a restricted area) he is free to "search" for whatever he can find and you can be charged with whatever violations he turns up.
    As far as the set of antlers that caused you all that grief---had you not allowed him in your back room he never would have seen them and thus could not have questioned them since, BY LAW, you are not required to produce records from seven years ago.
    Trophy, you might think you're making it easier on yourself by "cooperating" but you are setting yourself up. By "cooperating" like you did you basically gave him permission to violate your Constitutional Rights. How much "easier" is it going to be when he hands you a citation for "Improper record keeping" for not having the records handy for the seven year old antlers? Or, like in other states, hands you a citation for "Improper tagging" because he found an otter skin in your freezer without a tag when it was HE, in fact, that knocked the tag off as he was going through your freezer like an out of control, dumpster-diving bear?

    I hope everyone can see my point. To take it one step further I'll write out the scenario as it SHOULD have occurred:

    --DNR officer calls and asks if he can stop over to check your records. You reply "Certainly" and remind him of your business hours and ask him when he would like his "appointment".
    --When he shows up you politely greet him at the door and immediately go behind your counter to produce your record book. NOTE--it is critical that you be polite and respectful AT ALL TIMES.
    --As you hand it to him you tell him (as I stated above) that if he has any questions or would like to see any items to simply let you know and you would be happy to produce them.
    --When he asks if he can "look around" your back room you smile and point to your "NO CUSTOMERS BEYOND THIS POINT" sign and say, "Sorry, but everyone needs to stay in the showroom for security and insurance reasons".
    He might not like this but he knows it is YOUR right to ask that he stay in your public area. If he insists on going in your back room you politely, but FIRMLY, remind him that he is there for a records inspection ONLY and anything more would constitute a "Search" and for that he would need a warrant. If need be, produce a copy of the FEDERAL Showers v. Spangler et al. case which clearly defines the Inspection Statute and clearly defines the circumstances where things go from an "inspection" to a "search". Warrantless searches are illegal--plain and simple!
    --The DNR Officer completes his perusal of your records and any specimens he asks you to produce and thanks you for your cooperation and leaves. He LEAVES your place of business with a new RESPECT for you as a businessman and citizen. He now knows that YOU know the law and your rights and he respects you for it.
    --Any subsequent "inspections of records" will be just that because you have shown him that you respect his job and ask that he respect yours. Its mutual respect--that's all!

    If more taxidermists would know their rights and ask that Game Wardens and DNR Officers respect those rights we would all be much better off. Having the respect of your local Wildlife Officer is critical to the operation of your business. Letting him run rampant over your Civil and Constitutional Rights is just plain STUPID.

    Skullery likes this.
  5. Trophy2

    Trophy2 Guest

    I have been following this all morning and I am getting tired of your tone Paul.Who are you to call my brother stupid?An intimadating ex marine DNR officer enters my brothers shop and starts the conversation with"If you have anything illegal tell me now and ......and you blame my brother for submitting?If this DNR agent is overstepping his bounds,he is the one you should be angry with.My brother has been stressing about what happened all day.He has reviewed his Maryland issued taxidermy law book and the way it reads the DNR agent was well within his rights.Instead of ranting how about helping? If there is some way legal grounds to check this idiot,my brother would like to hear from you.Do not confuse being stupid with being intimadated and uninformed.
  6. daniel

    daniel New Member

    here we go again ??? DANIEL ??? ??? GUEST IT TOOK YOU ALL MORNING TO READ THIS ??? ???
  7. I don't believe that Paul meant that your brother is stupid. The action maybe is stupid. Thanks for the info Paul. We should be all cognizant with what our business entails.
  8. trophy2

    trophy2 Guest

    Everything that Paul was saying sounds great but I dont think his ideas about how to handle the DNR are realistic, least not here in Maryland.I will have my brother post the exact wording of the law concerning inspections.I think his actions were more law abiding then "stupid"
  9. As I said, we should be all cognizant with what our business entails, no matter where or what, etc.
  10. Paul C

    Paul C New Member

    Trophy the FEDERAL law is very clear on this issue but some states deliberately "gray" it over to confuse people. I didn't intend my posts to berate you as your "brother" suggests but to clarify what SHOULD BE a black and white issue.
    Go into these Archives and research the Mike Showers case. I believe the Federal decison itself was posted here a while back. If you can't find it let me know and I can mail you a copy.

    As far as what you found in the Maryland law archives it is nothing new. Almost every state has worded that law the same way. By making it "gray" in its definitions they allow officers to use their own discretion as to how to implement the law. It gives them much needed "leeway" for investigations. However, if you choose to research the actual law as it pertains to the Constitution you will see that they grossly overstep their bounds. The Showers v. Spangler decision CLEARLY defined the definition of "inspection" with regards to the Inspection Statute itself and limited the scope of the Inspection to records and place of business ONLY. Anything else requires a search warrant as it exceeds the limitations of the Inspection Statute. Now, just what is your "place of business"? The Officer might tell you that it includes your entire building and its contents. However, without a warrant an officer is only permitted to go where the general public is permitted to go while inside your building--UNLESS you give him permission. That is where most taxidermists screw up. The officer asks if he can "look around" and they say, "Sure" because, as you said before, they have nothing to hide. At that point, anything the officer finds is admissable in Court and YOU are in trouble. Case in point--the seven year old antlers!

    I'm not saying that you should stand in your doorway with a shotgun and challenge them. Like I said above, if you treat them with respect and show them that you know your Rights and want them to RESPECT your Rights most officers will back down because they know the law is vague and they ARE, in fact, "pushing it". However, if you should happen to get one of those brain-dead, gun-toting, jack-booted neanderthals that is going through life intimidating people with his badge and bravado record every action of the Officer on video--including you informing him that he is violating your Civil Rights by searching your building without a warrant. Make an appointment with a GOOD Civil Rights attorney and let him do his job. It might take a while to sort out but, eventually, you will be enjoying the "good life" in one of your three vacation homes while the Officer cleans garbage cans in a state park somewhere.

    I hope I haven't raised the ire of "brother" Trophy 2 with this post. I try SO hard to be politically correct and not offend anyone but sometimes the sarcasm just leaks out like puss from a boil.

    Take care.
    Skullery likes this.
  11. BeckyBird

    BeckyBird My Baby Bluebirds

    Are DNR officers allowed to search freezers in the kitchen? I work out of my house, so he would have to pass the kitchen to get to my workroom. All of my birds are in a freezer in the back, not in the kitchen. Does he have the right to search the kitchen freezers, without a warrant?
  12. Matt

    Matt Active Member

    Paul, you must not get inspected on a regular basis. The DNR can stop anytime, and look at anything they want. If you hassel them about it, they are going to make your life he!!. They are not required to call before stopping. I have one go to the studio, and then come to the house at 9:30 at night. Guess what, he didn't leave until 11:30. You want to talk about your blood boiling! I have gone above and beyond his head and there was nothing I could do. The next time, I won't answer the door. This guy has long been gone, and the new guy is pretty reasonable. I still don't like the fact they can take up your time(which by the way, you're not getting paid for loss time) and do what they want as far as an inspection goes.
  13. BeckyBird

    BeckyBird My Baby Bluebirds

    Another question--will you get in trouble for not answering the door, like Matt suggested? If they come by at an unreasonable hour like 9:30pm? I haven't been inspected, ever, so I am very nervous for the day when it comes. I'll probably let them look anywhere, just so I won't get in trouble:(
  14. trophy2

    trophy2 Guest

    Paul,I admire your passion and respect your knowledge,but as you can tell by some of the other posts sticking to your principals and trying to interpret gray areas of the law is easier said than done.Short of keeping a lawyer at the shop,What can you do?
  15. Matt

    Matt Active Member

    You are not going to get in trouble for not answering the door(just don't let them see you through the window! LOL) You could answer the door and tell them now is not a good time, and you'll be suspected of hiding something. In my oppionion, I have a family, just like most everyone else. It's bad enough to waste your time through the day, but they are not going to waste my family time! At the pressent, the guys I work with now seemed to respect my time. Being full time, I plan out my days, and stick to it as best I can. However, you cannot predict a surprise stop by the DNR, so as I said, I do the best I can.
  16. BeckyBird-- if you don't keep anything related to your taxidermy business in that kitchen freezer, than no, he cannot look in it. In fact, it is my understanding that they cannot look in any freezer at all WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION. However, if you give them permission, be prepared to have all your frozen critters spread out on the floor! If they want to see something, ask them which animal in your log book they are looking for, and then GET IT YOURSELF and close the freezer lid behind you. That should be sufficient. That is the difference between a search and an inspection. If they are doing a search, they better have a warrant. That's the way I understand it. If I am wrong someone please correct me.
  17. Paul C

    Paul C New Member

    Matt, define "inspected"? If I EVER got inspected the way you and Trophy get "inspected" I would be retired and running fishing charters on my 50' Ocean yacht out of Cape Hatteras in a VERY short time.
    You guys have been so brainwashed by your DNR's that you actually believe you aren't entitled to basic Civil Rights like other Americans.

    It really doesn't matter to me what you do as far your inspections go. I'm simply telling you that allowing the DNR to trample your Constitutional Rights because they "think" they can is silly. When the Showers decision was handed down in 1998 it was the "hot topic" of discussion at the National Law Enforcement Conference the following year. EVERY Fish and Game Office in the country was represented. Pennsylvania Game Commission Officials presented the results of that decision to the entire conference. Some states immediately adopted PA's policy of a stricter interpretation of the Inspection Statute while others modified their policies slightly. Still others decided to ignore it figuring they would "ride it out" until someone pressed the issue in court.
    Wisconsin was one of the states that choose to modify their "Inspection policy" with a little prodding from the WTA. Illinois, Indiana and North Carolina were three of the states that chose to ignore it. Apparently, we can add Mayland to that list as well!

    For those that are curious about Pennsylvania's Inspection policy I will tell you what I have been told by the PGC's Director of Law Enforcement. WCOs (game wardens) have been instructed to "inspect" taxidermists ONLY in the context of a criminal investigation. In short, legally they can't even SEE a taxidermy record without a search warrant because the PGC does not oversee taxidermy in PA any more---thanks to the PTA and HB1528.
    In PA the Department of Agriculture issues taxidermy licenses. The Dept. of Ag is permitted to check taxidermy records ONLY and must do so during business hours only and, preferrably, by appointment.
    NO ONE, in the state of PA, is permitted to search freezers, closets or closed off rooms without a search warrant (or your permission). I hope that is clear enough.

    Becky---NO ONE is allowed to search your freezers! Period! Especially if those freezers are in your home. Can an officer come into your home and search your closet? How about your basement? Why do you think the DNR is more powerful than the State Police? You mentioned not answering the door when they call. I'm not an Officer or an attorney but I think if an officer came to your door and identified himself as such and you refused to at least answer the door the issue of "probable cause" might come up. Once he has probable cause he can get a search warrant and then you WILL be in trouble because if he went through the trouble of getting a warrant he is going to turn everything upside and shake it until he finds something. And he WILL find something!

    I've spent a lot of time trying to educate the taxidermists of this country on what should have been taught in 5th grade Social Studies--I have some fish to paint. Matt--you are free to continue thinking "the DNR can stop anytime, and look at anything they want". I however, will continue to try to teach people that taxidermists are Americans and, as such, are afforded the same rights as rapists, murderers and child molesters and are innocent until PROVEN guilty.

    Good luck!
  18. Dnr officers are human being just like taxidermist. If you treat them with some respect they will treat you the same. This is coming from a taxidermist that was envolved with one of the largest bust in the state of ohio. I have learned as i'm sure many other taxidermist have learn if you have nothing to hide whats to worry about. Trophy it sounds like to me that theis DNR officer probably got a tip from a CI that something wasnt legit (rather it was or not i'm not to judge) I belive that you did the proper thing by being coroperative. It has taken me some time to regain the respect from our DNR but I have learned now that I have there searchs are alot less deep and time consuming. Continue to obey the law like I'm sure that you do and I would say itss save to say you'll have no problems.

    Good Luck,
  19. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Trophy, since you're a "guest", I don't know who your brother is but if I did, I'd tell him he was stupid. What does size have to do with intelligence. A little stupid guy beats me up, he's not going to be any smarter. I live in Delaware and the law that Paul is speaking about certainly DOES apply to your brother and to the Maryland DNR. That's the problem with this industry. "Yesterday I couldn't spell taxidermist and today I are one." There are MANY laws that anyone practicing taxidermy needs to know. They need to know them not to insure the DNR does their job correctly as much as to protect yourself from "UNREASONABLE SEARCH" as guaranteed by the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Mike Showers of Pennsylvania paid one helluva price to guarantee you that right and your brother just gave it away. I keep a copy of the court decision in my shop right along with the 50 CFR waterfowl regulations. I've never had to use it, but it's right there just in case.

    BTW, if you're going to jump on somebody, at least have the guts to register on the site.

    Reborpoacher, I have as much faith in you as I do reborn Crhistians. I don't NEED to hide anything just as I don't NEED to have my personal belongings used as a curiosity piece for some bunny cop. I respect them and I appreciate all they do, but they are notorious for treating EVERYONE as if they were a criminal. I just got through filing a complaint against one that made that remark at a checking station. So what if the warden had a "tip". If he had conviction of the validity of this "tip", I'm certain he'd have been able to get an appropriate warrant. That's what judges get paid for. You don't have any respect for DNR officers, you're just plain scared of them because of the baggage you carry with your past conviction. That's understandable, but don't lump me in the same category with you. I didn't NEED to be reborn as the first time was quite sufficient for me.
    crs likes this.
  20. trophy

    trophy New Member

    After my 3 hour audit of my shop Iam back. After calling DNR today I was told his search was within his "duty" even though it was late and indepth. I never had any previous violations and been doing taxidermy now for 15 years. My "passiveness" has never been taken advantage of by other officers and the routine checks where nothing but that. Maybe in OZ you can click your heels 3 times and he would go away or let me tell him to stay in my show room only to provide him what I felt was acceptible but in Maryland it doesnt work that way. If I thought it would be cheaper to pay your(Paul) wages and have you strong arm him for me everytime he stops by than to alow him in I would do so . But Iam sure with a fine tooth comb we all have a blemish in our books or a loose tag somewhere that would be priceless to a pi//ed off agent.Hopefully your way works and is correct but Marie Goldie of our wildlife division in annapollis begs to differ in Maryland.

    Just a little note to others doing any wholesale work you must have all the same correct info as who, meaning another taxidermist you doing the work for. Even though they have the info in there books yours must reflect. Any privacy issues are out the door and they have to hope your a stand up guy respecting there clients.

    Good luck with your approaches. Bryan

    On the front of my Maryland Taxidermist record book it states:
    The liscensee shall also include in the ledger the same information with regards to any wild life taken from the wild by the licensee and held for mounting or tanning .

    The licensee shall alow any natrual resources police or any law enforment officer to enter at all reasonable hours for the following reasons:

    1.to inspect the premises and holding facilities where operations are being carried on;

    2. to inspect wildlife;and

    3.to inspect records

    Either real grey or the law is the law. And no Iam not stupid. Maybe a little smarter than you cowboys that want buck the system.I have talked to 3 other "brainwashed" Maryland taxidermist that are busy tighting up there operations.Seems like Matt and I are the only ones in the same boat. This all boils down to who you get and would love to sit in on your Dnr Handling seminar.If valid I would love to see it in action. I now need a trip away so if you get your "appointment scheudle" with your next inspection please call. Now waiting for part two of my inspection I will keep informed. Any last minute suggestions and please dont try to get me locked up.