Several years ago, I wrote a column about a fellow who had moved to Arizona from New York or someplace, and was therefore unfamiliar with life in The West. Coyotes made off with the Yankee’s pet; I think it was a poodle or something, and he was upset. I mean the Yankee was upset, not the poodle. Well, the poodle probably wasn’t too happy, either.
So the Yankee wrote a letter to the Arizona Fish & Wildlife Department, demanding financial restitution to compensate him for said poodle. Inasmuch as the coyote belonged to the State of Arizona, he figured Arizona was responsible for his loss. He further indicated, in no uncertain terms, that the State of Arizona had better Do Something about the coyote problem forthwith. I imagine he stomped his foot when he mailed the letter. I certainly would have.
Well, the Arizona Fish & Wildlife Dept. chose not to act favorably in response to the Yankee’s letter. Unless you count laughing hysterically as acting favorably. I’d be willing to bet you can still find copies of that letter on bulletin boards all over the AFWD headquarters. That’s assuming the story is true, and it must be, because I remember reading about it.
Arizona is once again in the news, this time over a bill that’s making its way through the legislative process in the Grand Canyon State (Arizona). This bill would make it legal for people to shoot rats and snakes and such, if they find them in their yards inside the city limits of towns. As you might expect, if you’re not a Yankee, that frequently happens in Arizona (the Grand Canyon State).
Now, this bill (HB 2022) would only legalize the use of .22 caliber ammo, and only shotshells, either rat shot or the type of shells that CCI makes, which are called, for some reason, Shotshells. They have a little blue plastic cap where the bullet normally goes, and the cap is full of #12 shot, or smaller, which is really tiny, way smaller than BBs. The effective range of these shells is maybe ten feet, although they’d probably ruin your day from farther than that.
Surprisingly, not everyone in Arizona is on board with this bill. Russ Johnson says it’s a bad idea. But then, Russ is with the Phoenix Herpetological Society. They favor snakes. Russ said, “You’re talking about shooting rats. So you’re shooting on your rooftop; so you got bird shot spraying everywhere. OK, if you’re shooting a snake, you’re pointing down. You’re gonna get a ricochet even though it’s pellet.”
Now, I don’t know about people shooting rats on rooftops, but let’s go with that. I’ve been using CCI .22 Shotshells for about 40 years, and if someone shoots at a rat on a roof, the shot isn’t going to hurt anyone when it comes down. If it did happen to hit anybody, I doubt they’d even know it. A housefly would hurt worse. A pecan falling out of a tree would hurt a lot worse. A ricochet is possible, I guess, but still, it probably wouldn’t break the skin. I don’t think Arizonians are all that fragile. I think Russ is just worried about the snakes. Which is probably not a very popular position, in Arizona.
The animal rights folks aren’t too happy about HB 2022, either, but nobody cares.
Then there’s the Democrats, who are also opposed, maybe because the Arizona State House is controlled by Republicans at the moment, and somebody has to be opposed. Rep. Kirsten Engel (D-Tucson) said, “I’m concerned about relaxing the restriction on use of firearms within the city limits.” Of course she is.
Honestly, anyone with the IQ of butter knows that Arizonians are already shooting rats and snakes and such in cities there. They just aren’t doing it legally, so they aren’t advertising it. It happens everywhere. Not that I’m admitting anything.
Engel also claims to be worried about people being in danger, approaching snakes. She thinks people should avoid snakes. Really. Which sounds to me like she is saying people should avoid Arizona. Most of it is a desert, for goodness sake. Where does she think most U.S. rattlesnakes are kept, anyway?
The funniest part of the story, though, comes from Rep. Jay Lawrence (R-Scottsdale), who sponsored the bill. Jay said, “It’s a firearms bill. It’s not a bill that deals with harming snakes or rats or any other vermin; it merely is a firearms bill.”
To be clear, I’m on Jay’s side, here, although I really don’t have a rat in the fight. But I’m wondering, if the purpose of HB 2022 is not to enable Arizonians to legally kill rats and snakes, what is it for? Spiders? Crickets? Very small coyotes? Marauding cacti?
Jay claiming the bill is not aimed at rats and snakes sounds like the old Quaker who heard a noise in his chicken house one night, and went out in the yard with his shotgun. He saw a fellow coming out of the henhouse and said, “Friend, I wish thee no harm, but thou art standing in the place where I am about to shoot.”
Me, I don’t care for rats, anyway. The last time I camped at Grand Canyon (which is in Arizona) a rat got into my pack and stole a package of hot chocolate mix. I wonder if the State of Arizona would reimburse me . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist who once shot a rat with an arrow. Really. Write to him at [email protected].