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Forest - Laws

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Game has constantly been a subject of legislation from the Conquest to the pre sent time. The last general statute which relates to game (2 Wm. IV. o. 32) was enacted in 1831, and it repealed twenty-four acts, eight of which had been passed the reign of George III. It is doubtful whether the evils of the game laws have been much diminished by the act of 1831. Some of them are beyond the reach of legislative enactments. In the first place, however, we shall briefly show what are the principal statutory provisions relating to game.

Game is declared to include hares, pheasants, partridges, grouse, heath or moor game, black game and bustards. Snipe, quail, landrail, woodcock, and comes are not game, but they can only be taken or killed by certificated persons. Woodcocks and snipes may be taken with nets or snares, and also rabbits, by the proprietor, in an enclosed ground, or by a tenant and his servant. A penalty not exceeding 21. over and above the value of the bird is incurred for killing, wound ing, or taking any house•dove or pigeon when the offence does not amount to a larceny (7 & 8 Geo. IV. c. 29), Any person who purchases a certificate or licence may kill game upon his own land, or on the land of any other person with his permission. This important alteration of the law was effected so re cently as 1831, by 2 Wm. IV. c. 32, be fore which time a person was required to be possessed of a qualification by estate or birth to entitle him to kill game. The statute 13 Richard II. c. 13, the title of which was, None shall hunt but they who have a sufficient living,' was the first introduction of a qualification to kill game. This statute prohibited laymen who had not lands or tenements of 40a. a year, and priests who had not 101. a year, from taking or destroying deer, hares, or conies, upon pain of one year's imprisonment. By 3 Jac. I. o. 13, the qualification to kill game was increased to 401. a year in land and 2001. in personal property. By 22 & 23 Car. II. c. 25, the qualification was limited to persons who had a freehold estate of 1001. per annum or a leasehold for 99 years of 1501. annual value. Some personal qualifications were added, as being the son and heir apparent of an esquire. Persons who had not these qualifications were not allowed to have or keep game dogs. Certificates were first required to be taken out by persons qualified to kill game by the act 25 Geo. Ill. c. 50. The certificate itself, which costs 31. 13s. 6d., now gives a qualifica tion. It must be taken out annually, and expires in July. A sportsman who refuses

to show his certificate when demanded by collectors of taxes, gamekeepers, land lords, occupiers, and lessees, is liable to a penalty of 20/. Uncertificated per sons sporting are liable to a penalty of 51. for each offence, with additional pe nalties under the Certificate Act of 231. 13s. 6d. But by the acts of 1848 the 11 & 12 Viet. c. 29, and c. 30, owner or occupier of enclosed grounds having a right to kill game thereon, in England or Scotland, is enabled himself or any one authorized by him in writing, to kill hares without taking out a game certificate.

The right which a certificate gives to kill game is subject to a number of re strictions. A certificated person is liable to a penalty of Si., with costs, for taking or killing game on Sunday or Christmas day, and to a penalty not exceeding 20s. for each head of game taken or killed at the season when the pursuit of each kind of game is prohibited. He is subject to the general law of trespass for going upon another person's land. Generally speaking, the right of killing the game is reserved by the landlord, when he leases his land, and when this is the case the occupier of the land can neither kill game nor give permission to another per son to do so. He is liable under § § 11, 12 of I & 2 Wm. IV. 0. 32 to a penalty of 20s., with costs, for every head of game killed by him or other persons autho rized by him. The landlord when he reserves it may kill game on the tenant's land, or authorize any certi ficated person to enter on the land and kill game. The tenant may kill wood cocks, snipes, quails, landrails, or rabbits, on the land which he occupies, but he cannot authorize other persons to kill them. The person who has the right of killing the game, or the occupier of the laud, or gamekeepers, or any person au thorized by either of them, may require a person found trespassing in pursuit of game to quit the land, and to give his name and place of abode ; and in case of refusal, the trespasser may be taken in stantly before a magistrate, who may fine him 51.; but if not brought before a ma gistrate within twelve hours, proceedings must be taken by summons or warrant. If five or more persons together trespass in pursuit of game, and any one of them be armed with a gun, and if threats or violence are used to prevent any author ized person from approaching them for the purpose of requiring them to quit the land, or to tell their names and abodes, every person so offending is liable to a penalty not exceeding 51., in addition to any other penalty with costs.

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