There are a lot of people who own guns for self-defense. These responsible owners also take the time to learn the laws about self-defense.
One thing that isn’t discussed much is if certain animals are protected and what happens if you shoot one.
In the United States, different states and territories have slightly different laws about the legality of killing animals in self-defense.
For example, many states allow you to kill animals that attack them, but some do not. (In New York, for example, you can’t kill an animal you perceive as threatening).
And in some places, only certain kinds of animals are protected, such as dogs, cats, and livestock.
Let’s look at crocodiles, for example. The question of whether or not you can legally kill a crocodile in self-defense causes some confusion.
The Environmental Protection Act protects all crocodile species.
But the relevant section of the Act states that a person may kill a protected animal “in self-defense, in defense of another person, in defense of property other than livestock, or to prevent the killing or injury of livestock.”
Therefore, the answer to the question is that it is generally legal to kill a crocodile if it attacks you or another person. However, killing a crocodile that poses no threat to you or others is not legal.
Is it Legal to Kill a Dangerous Animal In Self-Defense?
When it comes to using force and deadly force to defend oneself, others or property from an animal attack, some laws justify conduct, including self-defense, against certain large carnivores and other dangerous wild animals.
Nevertheless, no law provides general immunity from prosecution for protecting oneself or others from attacks by wild animals.
The law regarding killing dangerous animals in self-defense, including wolves and coyotes, is not specifically listed.
However, in Washington, you can only kill a protected animal in self-defense if the wild animal is currently attacking a person or if the wild animal poses an imminent threat to a person.
In addition, however, it is unlawful to kill protected wildlife or endangered species (as defined in RCW 77.08.010) unless you have a permit from the Commission or a permit from the Department.
In Michigan, however, a person has no specific right to shoot an animal other than a dog in self-defense or defense of others, even if they have an honest and reasonable belief that death or serious physical harm is imminent.
The only exception is dogs that attack humans (note the present tense). Since there is no property right, it is unnecessary to obtain a court order before killing a wild animal.
However, a permit or hunting license may be required depending on the situation.
Birds are under strict protection in Michigan, so it is always dangerous to shoot without a permit.
As anyone familiar with the legal system knows, the use of deadly force to protect oneself or others is a gray area. (With some notable exceptions, of course.) The law is made up of shades of gray.
What is clear is that you should not use deadly force to protect property unless the property is your home. That’s what the law says. But what about animals?
There are also laws protecting animals, and generally, harming an animal is not considered a crime. But the law is complicated, and it’s not always clear exactly what’s legal and what’s not. It is also worth noting that most legal systems are not.