Editorial: Ignorance of the law is no excuse

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 18, 2006

There are few of us who can claim to know all the laws. But not knowing the law doesn’t give us the right to break it.

A country singer said he thought he had complied with the law when he shot and killed a tame black bear in Minnesota and was surprised when he was indicted.

Troy Lee Gentry, of the vocal duo Montgomery Gentry, is accused of killing a tame black bear that federal officials say he tagged as killed in the wild. Authorities allege that Gentry purchased the bear from a wildlife photographer and hunting guide, then killed it with a bow and arrow in an enclosed pen on the photographer’s property in October 2004.

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The singer alleges that the bear was roaming around in a fenced area of several acres, and he spent almost two hours in a tree stand before he got a clear shot with a bow and arrow.

The singer said he prides himself on being an environmentalist and avid hunter. Yet it seems to us that there’s not much sport in killing a tame bear.

We urge anyone who plans to hunt to be sure they know the laws before they head out and end up in hot water. People can’t always rely on the people who are with them to know, either. Check with someone in charge.

Because not knowing the law doesn’t make it right to go ahead and break it.