SI Vault
The authority of conservation officers is being challenged in a West Virginia murder trial, and deer are being shot out of season—with real bullets in Washington and drugs in New Jersey
Edited by Ed Zern And Tom Lineaweaver
March 12, 1956
Based on regular weekly dispatches from SI bureaus and special correspondents in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and overseas; and on reports from fish and game commissions of the 48 states and Alaska
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
March 12, 1956

The Authority Of Conservation Officers Is Being Challenged In A West Virginia Murder Trial, And Deer Are Being Shot Out Of Season—with Real Bullets In Washington And Drugs In New Jersey

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

Based on regular weekly dispatches from SI bureaus and special correspondents in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and overseas; and on reports from fish and game commissions of the 48 states and Alaska

Can a conservation officer shoot to enforce the game laws? A 67-year-old West Virginian named Elmer Anderson thought he could, and will stand trial for murder on March 19. On the night of November 18 last, Anderson, along with Keith Taylor, a young officer just breaking in, was checking a tip from a property owner that someone was illegally hunting with lights. According to Anderson's subsequent account, they encountered a man and boy carrying, respectively, a shotgun and a .22 rifle. The man wore a carbide lamp on his cap. Concluding that the pair were jack-lighting rabbits, Anderson ordered them to drop their guns. The man refused, Anderson says, and raised his weapon and shouted: "I'm going to kill you." Anderson shot twice with his revolver and killed Clyde Tennant, a 28-year-old roofer and the father of three children. A police investigation cleared Anderson, but Tennant's widow later obtained a warrant, and the officer was indicted for murder by a Wood County grand jury. "There was nothing left to do but shoot," Anderson told an SI correspondent last week. "I am mystified by the turn of events. If I had failed to try to make the arrest I would have failed my duty." Defense Counsel William Bruce Hoff will seek an acquittal on the grounds that Anderson had the right to use all the force necessary in making the arrest. West Virginia conservation officials and sportsmen's organizations are backing Anderson. Whatever the relative merits of his case, the verdict will be of importance to those concerned with game law enforcement everywhere.

This spring the California Fish and Game Department will strike its second blow for moderation. To learn more of goose migration habits, field workers will net birds in their Tule Lake winter quarters and dye them a variety of attractive colors. When the geese move, their northward flight can be plotted by the reports of horrified observers along the way. In 1955, the first year the department attempted this pioneering wildfowl experiment, the pastel geese were spotted all the way from California to Banks Island in the Arctic Ocean. Watchers sighted nine pink models, a green one and eight yellow versions pumping self-consciously along in the same flight. How many pledges were taken among the laity sober California game people fail to report.

The other day Cyril Latta of Tweed, Ontario set his beaver traps, returned later to find one beaverless but sprung. In it was a 24-inch northern pike.


Deer were under fire in two places last week, but the fire was of two kinds. Washington conservationists and sportsmen were protesting what they labeled a slaughter by orchard owners on the eastern slopes of the Cascades. Deer forced down by heavy mountain snow are a menace to orchards, and owners legally can and often must shoot to protect their trees. Conservation groups suspect, however, that a few orchardists are more concerned with "target practice" than protection, cite 111 deer shot in one orchard.

New Jersey has deer problems too, and is trying a unique—and imaginative—remedy. The deer herd between Titusville and Hopewell is so large that farmers can no longer plant unfenced crops. To meet this crisis the New Jersey Division of Fish and Game plans to shoot surplus deer with a drugged bullet, and an order has been placed with Merck and Co. for strychnine arsenate. This will be loaded into the jackets of .22 Hornet cartridges from which the lead core has been removed and the powder charge reduced 50%. Deer will be shot in fleshy, non-vital parts of their carcasses and, as soon as they have conveniently toppled over in a drug-induced stupor, field personnel will pick them up for caging and transportation to deer-lean areas.

According to Lester G. McNamara, state game management superintendent, an injection of phenobarbital will quickly revive the transplanted victims on arrival at their new range.

Through prodigious U.S.- Canada conservation efforts (SI, Nov. 21), the whooping crane population has been nursed back to a thin 28 birds. Last week the Canadian government announced a move to protect the newly discovered nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park. No airplane will be permitted to fly at less than 2,000 feet over the nesting area. In spite of their increase, the Canadians warn, whoopers are "still on the critical list."

A heavy February snowfall has led A. Dean Coleman, superintendent of the Colorado Game and Fish Department's Fur Division, to predict a record Colorado mountain lion kill this year. Even without the snow, it was a likely guess. For five years the state's lion bag has climbed steadily. Only 28 big cats were taken in 1950-51, a number which more than doubled to 64 in 1954-55. Largest cat killed so far this winter, a 185-pound 8-year-old, was shot in January by State Trapper William Kent of Beulah, a formidable lion slayer. During the same month Kent accounted for a 165-pounder, and one of his past trophies is displayed at the Denver Museum of Natural History.

Continue Story
1 2
Related Topics
Elmer Anderson 1 0 0
Bernard DeVoto 2 0 0
Clyde Tennant 1 0 0
Canada 703 0 5
West Virginia 231 0 2