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Wildlife Crimes: Offenses Involving Plants & Animals


Unknown to a lot of visitors, there is a rich wildlife teeming in Nevada and to preserve this, the State had passed a law to put an end to wildlife crimes and wildlife trade. Moreover, there is the Nevada Department of Wildlife that monitors all wildlife crimes in the entire region.

If you go to Nevada, particularly in Las Vegas where there are enclosures and preserves of flora and fauna and you happened to violate particular laws that protect them, understand that the State will impose charges against you. You can learn more about charges for wildlife crimes below.

Types of animals and plants in Nevada

With an arid topography, the flora and fauna that you should expect to see in Nevada are those animals that could endure a harsh setting. Common animals bounding on sands and rocks are coyotes, foxes, jackrabbits, bighorn sheep, deer, and reptiles such as geckos, tortoises, rattlesnakes, and more. For birds, Nevada has quails, grebes, trumpeter swans, and some migratory birds like the mergansers.

Plants thriving in Nevada are also the usual sorts you see in deserts such as yucca, cacti, greasewood, and Joshua trees.

The Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) define wildlife as “any wild mammal, wild bird, fish, reptile, amphibian, mollusk or crustacean found naturally in a wild state, whether indigenous to Nevada or not and whether raised in captivity or not.” While not explicitly stated, plants are a part of wildlife as they too are living organisms that impact the entire ecosystem.

Wildlife crimes in Nevada

While hunting is legal in Nevada, it is under boundaries that you cannot overstep. According to NRS 501.376, you cannot intentionally kill the following animals:

  • Bighorn sheep
  • Mountain goat
  • Elk
  • Deer
  • Pronghorn antelope
  • Mountain lion
  • Black bear

Through illegal ways such as using an aircraft, on day and time where it is unpermitted or through other means that are not regulated by the Department of Wildlife. Hunting endangered species on a preservation area also brings graver consequences. More about hunting endangered species laws in Chapter 501 of NRS.

It is also unlawful to import and sale game mammals, game birds, game amphibians, and game fish as well as feeding big game mammals (black bears, mule deer, antelopes) without proper authorization. Wildlife trade is considered illegal in the entirety of the US and becomes a federal crime if you take the animal, living or as a processed product across the state. Read more about federal wildlife laws to see how different federal court handles cases.

Vandalism of signs that are meant to protect animals is similarly prohibited in Nevada along with unlawfully possessing wildlife from another state or country.

Chapter 527 of the NRS talks about unlawful acts against the flora in Nevada. You cannot unceremoniously cut down any wood, timbers, or trees in the State without proper permission. It is also illegal to cut, destroy, mutilate, and pick trees, shrubs, and flowers in the private lands of the State without authorization, especially ones that are endangered or preserved by the Department of Wildlife.

Natural preserves in Nevada include the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, the Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary, the Lion Habitat Ranch, and more.

Penalties of wildlife crimes

Killing an animal under forbidden conditions in Nevada could get you a charge of category E felony with penalties such as a prison term of not more than one year and a fine of $5,000. In addition, if you kill or possess a trophy big game mammal you will have to pay a civil penalty that ranges from $25 to $1,000. Hunting, fishing, and trapping without a proper license could also include a civil penalty of not less than $50.

For the rest of the violations of wildlife crimes, a person could be charged with a misdemeanor which includes jail time of not more than six months and fines of $50 to $5,000.

Cutting down a tree or destroying plants without appropriate permission makes you guilty of a public offense and will make way for a misdemeanor charge.

Nevada Game Wardens and State Forester Firewardens are responsible for the care of animals and plants in Nevada, respectively and they have the power to enforce these conditions and can take you to the aw if you offend them.

How an attorney can help

Many people are unaware of the laws surrounding plants and animals in Nevada. This is why it is important to have a criminal defense lawyer by your side if you are unlawfully accused of committing wildlife crimes.

If the violation was committed in Las Vegas, your Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer will help you in manners of representing you in court and coming up with defenses that you can use. Below are a few:

  • You did not intend to kill an animal or destroy a plant
  • You were under duress
  • You were drugged or intoxicated
  • Not enough evidences
  • It was purely accidental
  • You were acting out of self-defense

We are not the sole residents of this earth—there are beings that also deserve to live to the fullest, unethically hunting them or putting the survival of their kind on risk incurs criminal charges.

If you never intended to perpetrate wildlife crimes, you need to get the aid of a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer that can give you counsel and represent you throughout the entire case.

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