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Posted by Jason Harlow on February 22, 2002 at 17:46:42:
As you may or may not know, I am the process of clarifying Illinois law in regards to American Alligators. I am posting today to ask for your assistance in this matter.
In February 2001, Lincoln Police Department officers whom were backing an opponent in an election I was involved with as a candidate, entered my office, and seized my two
alligators, Damien who was 22”, and Chewy, who was 28”.
I was cited with a violation of the IL dangerous animals act, and was subjected to public ridicule over this matter.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I proved to Logan County State’s Attorney, Tim Huyett, that I was not in violation of the Dangerous Animals act for several reasons, including previous case law that proved even a four foot alligator is not defined as dangerous under that act.
Mr. Huyett then threatened to prosecute me under the IL Endangered Species Protection Act, because the American alligator is listed by USFWS as “Similarity of appearance to a threatened taxon”. The American alligator has not been listed as threatened or endangered since 1986. He allowed me the opportunity to obtain a permit from the IL dept. of Natural Resources, and officials then returned the one remaining alligator, Chewy, to my care. Damien passed away two weeks before the situation was “resolved”.
In May 2001, I filed a 5 count, $110,000 suit, and named Lincoln Police Department, The City of Lincoln, each officer involved, and the police chief as defendants.
On February 15, 2002, Logan County Circuit Judge David Coogan ruled on the case as follows: “Court finds that an American Alligator is a threatened or endangered species and does require a permit from IL Dept. of Natural Resources. The court further finds that Counts I-V of Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to state a cause of action and are hereby dismissed.”
I have a serious problem with the finding of this court. I will attempt to explain fully why I believe the court ruled wrongly on this case.
1. American Alligators are listed as “Similarity of appearance to a threatened taxon”. No where in Illinois law, does it give mention to this classification.
2. US Fish & Wildlife Service also states that this status only applies to the alligator’s range, which consists of the states of AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, & TX.. Illinois is not, nor has it ever been in the alligator’s native range.
3. Federal law 50CFR17.42 clearly states in brief that “Any person may take an alligator in the wild, or one which was born in captivity or lawfully placed in captivity, and may deliver,
receive, carry, transport, ship, sell, offer to sell, purchase, or offer to purchase such alligator in interstate or foreign commerce”
4. The IL Endangered Species Protection Act (520 ILCS 10/) defines both Endangered and Threatened species, and states that the animal must be classified as Endangered or Threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Protection Act of 1973. It also defines Animal Product as “the fur, hide, skin, teeth, feathers, tusks, claws, eggs, nests, or the body or any portion thereof whether in a green or raw state or as a product manufactured or refined from an animal
protected under this Act”
My argument is as follows: How can restaurants sell alligator meat, and how can
consumers purchase alligator meat in this state without permit, under the interpretation of this court? Is alligator meat not an animal product ? What about mounted skulls, claws, and hides of alligators?
The American alligator has not been covered by the Illinois law for 16 years. Any
reasonable person can clearly see this.
Upon a successful finding by the Appellate Court of Illinois, I will then have a cause of action against the politically motivated officers, and intend to use all legal powers to make them liable for their actions.
I ask you to please lend your assistance to a fellow herper to help prove his case, and
settle this dispute once and for all. This case will also help all herpers in Illinois who choose to keep alligators legally and professionally, and could even become a case law for other states to refer to.
I ask you to submit letters in support of my cause, and attach any supporting documents that you can. Please mail these letters of support to: Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District, Appellate Court Building, 201 West Monroe, PO Box 19206, Springfield, IL, 62794-9206. Please reference Docket Number 4-02-0149.
If you could also send me a copy, it would be greatly appreciated as well. My address is Jason Harlow, PO Box 264, Lincoln, IL, 62656.
Thank you all in advance for your assistance !