California Department of Fish and Game wardens removed a stuffed red tail hawk and wolverine from the Georgetown Hotel bar on Tuesday in what some claimed was nothing less than “too much government regulation.”
Wardens Lt. Christy Wurster and Bob Pera came to the hotel prior to the 11 a.m. opening on Tuesday so as not to interfere with customer service either at the bar or the attached Mexican restaurant.
Warden Pera said the official complaint was made anonymously and originally entailed the report of two stuffed vultures.
“I received an e-mail from my chief and investigated the complaint Friday (May 4),” said Pera, who was the officer in charge of the seizure. “I discovered they weren’t vultures, but chickens (fighting cocks, to be exact). During my investigation, I did see several other violations.”
Pera referred to the red tail hawk, wolverine and a small bear that he thought was under 50 pounds and, therefore, illegal. It turned out, however, that the “bear” in question turned out to be a raccoon, and the only other stuffed bear in the hotel looked to be well over 50 pounds, according to Pera.
Hotel owner Virginia Asbury had little to say about the removal of the animals other than they were there when she bought the business more than 16 years ago. She was given a receipt for the two stuffed carcasses that were removed from the premises, but was told she was not able to possess them, and would not have them returned.
The wolverine was said to be a kind of icon for the hotel, but Lt. Wurster was adamant about the illegality to possess it.
“There are several different regulations,” she said. “The state says you can’t possess them in any way, shape or form.”
Although it is not known how the animals came into the hotel’s possession — whether they were taken prior to regulations being implemented, or if they were purchased in their stuffed condition — the wardens were clear that state regulations (which vary from state to state) prohibit the possession of the animals, making the Georgetown establishment in violation of the law.
Also made clear was that even if the animals were killed and stuffed legally in another state, the animals may not be in the possession of a California business or resident.
Local residents witnessing the event from the street commented that it was a ludicrous waste of time to seize the animals since they had been at the local business for many years.
Following the seizure of the animals, the officers were asked if they had a warrant. They did not, but said they were operating within their rights of the law. Questions regarding the lack of a warrant are expected to be pursued.
It is unknown what will happen to the animal carcasses, but the name of the Smithsonian Institute was bantered around by both wardens and an employee of the hotel, who said he had talked with someone at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Although the Smithsonian may be allowed to take them for display, no money can exchange between the owner and the institute.