DA rules out charges in raccoon death

BOULDER — A decision by the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office to dismiss felony animal cruelty charges against a man accused of killing a raccoon with a baseball bat is riling animal rights activists, who say there must be some law that applies.

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said his hands are tied because there is not an appropriate charge available to prosecute the case because of state hunting laws.

Jace Griffiths, 20, was arrested in November after he told police he killed a raccoon with a bat so he could “take its hide.”

Griffiths was charged with one count of aggravated animal cruelty. But in a motion filed on Jan. 23, Garnett said Colorado law allows the killing of “furbearers,” including raccoons, during certain seasons for people with the proper licenses.

“We looked very closely at that case and could not find any charges that we felt were appropriate,” Garnett said. “We had no evidence the animal was not killed quickly and painlessly.”

Griffiths could not be located for comment.

The Colorado Department of Wildlife’s website lists a number of different legal methods of taking animals, but the regulation also states any method of take not listed is prohibited. Under the furbearers section, the listed legal methods of take are rifle or handgun, shotgun, hand-held bows and crossbows, and traps.

Rita Anderson with Boulder chapter of In Defense of Animals said she believes that while Griffiths had a license to hunt furbearers, the kill was still illegal.

Garnett said it is sometimes difficult to prosecute cruelty in cases involving animals that can be legally hunted, the Boulder Daily Camera reported Monday.

“There’s a tension between the fact that we have animal-cruelty statutes but also permit hunting,” Garnett said. “If you’re going to have a statute that prohibits torture and needless killing of an animal but that same statutory scheme also permits Colorado Parks and Wildlife to license people to kill animals at certain times, the law needs to do a better job of sorting out that tension between those competing philosophies.”



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