Gov. Brad Henry has signed a bill into law that will ensure Oklahoma taxidermists are not stuck with the expense of preparing trophies should hunters not pick up the mount.
The measure, Senate Bill 1275, was written by Senator Jay Paul Gumm after a local Bryan County taxidermist contacted him about the problem. Rep. John Carey, who also represents Bryan County, was the House sponsor of the measure.
Taxidermist Jarrod Johnson contacted the senator and explained that Oklahoma law prevents taxidermists from selling unclaimed specimens. That law, according to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation, was in place to prevent trafficking animal carcasses across state lines.
“The old law made sense for that purpose,” Gumm said. “The unintended consequence is that taxidermists were left ‘holding the bag,’ out both the time and cost of preparing a specimen which they could not recover.”
The legislation requires taxidermists to keep the name, address, and hunting license number when hunters leave a specimen to be mounted. The hunter will get a form explaining the process.
When the specimen is ready, the taxidermist must call the hunter to let them know the mount is ready. If the hunter fails to pick up the specimen and pay the balance due within six months after that call, the taxidermist will be able to sell the unclaimed specimen to an Oklahoma resident to recover costs in its preparation.
“The bill was never intended to be a ‘money-maker’ for taxidermists,” Gumm explained. “It simply is written to make certain taxidermists are held harmless when they, in good faith, prepare a mount for a hunter.”
Both Gumm and Carey, Democrats from Durant, expressed their thanks to Gov. Brad Henry for signing the measure.
Oklahoma Taxidermists Association President Kenneth Bauman, of Anadarko, said his organization represents 125 taxidermists in the state. He said they were extremely grateful to Senator Gumm for his efforts in bringing about this much-needed change in state law.
“We’re thrilled. This has been an ongoing problem for years,” said Bauman, who has been in the taxidermy business for 19 years. “I probably have close to $1000 in unclaimed mounts sitting in my own store right now that legally I haven’t been able sell. This is great for taxidermists.”
The measure will officially take effect on November 1, 2010.