Acting on a tip, California Fish and Game (DFG) wardens removed two taxidermy mounts from a Georgetown bar – and not because they were underage drinkers. In fact, one of the animals, a wolverine wearing a red hat and clenching a cigarette between his teeth, was several decades old. According to the DFG, however, his owners were violating a state fish and game code for keeping protected animals, whether they be dead or alive.
The fish and game code in question states that there are nine mammals that are against the law to kill or possess for whatever reason and it does not matter how old they are and whether they are stuffed, according to DFG Spokesman Andrew Hughan. The second animal to be seized was a red-tailed hawk. Hughan said the hawk violated another code section that prohibits people from possessing a non-game bird.
The wolverine is a protected mammal in California, the last Sierra wolverine to be shot was a scientific specimen in 1922. The creature is rarely seen, one was captured on film by a remote-controlled camera north of Truckee in February 2008.
Anthony Fox, bartender and son-in-law of the owner of the bar, claims the hawk has been on display for the past 20 years, but only guesses that it originated in California, while the wolverine has been on display at the bar for more than 50 years and was killed in Alaska. Both animals were donations from community residents to the bar.
Fox says the bar is teeming with history: the building the bar operates out of is 120 years old, with little pieces of history collected from customers over time. The bar even has people’s ashes in bottles. He feels that the wardens took a piece of the bar’s history when they confiscated the animals. Fox is also especially hurt because he feels like wardens didn’t have the right to take the animals without a warrant. “I’m not angry, I feel violated,” Fox said. “They took part of our history, they took a part of the town‘s history. They will keep them locked up and we’re not ever going to get them back.”
DFG Warden Patrick Foy said they were acting on a tip they received on April 27th that there were “numerous endangered species” on display at the bar. Upon inspection, they only found two in violation of the code. In an email, Warden Foy said under no circumstances was a warrant necessary for this case. “They [the wardens] were 100 percent within policy to seize the evidence items as done.”
On a positive note, the wardens did not issue a citation to the bar owners. In an interview with the Sacremento Bee, Hughan said, “…at the end of the day, the wardens received a tip, they found a law being broken and they did what they had to do. All we wanted to do is make sure they were compliant.”
The Georgetown bar has numerous other animals and tidbits of historical items on display such as a badger, fox, mallard, several deer, elk and even two jackalopes.
Fox says he and the owners were unaware of their violations at the time that wardens came to confiscate the animals.
Locales may legally display other types of game, such as deer, but not any of the nine fully protected mammals. The list of protected species includes: Morro Bay kangaroo rat, Bighorn sheep (except Nelson bighorn sheep), Northern elephant seal, Guadalupe fur seal, Ring-tailed cat, Pacific right whale, Salt-marsh harvest mouse, Southern sea otter and wolverine.
The DFG plans to relocate the confiscated hawk and wolverine to a museum or wildlife viewing area.
Photos courtesy California DFG