Springfield – A court has ruled that agents in the state can
search taxidermy businesses without a warrant.
The ongoing battle ended in the 7th Circuit Court in Springfield
late in September when a judge ruled that the government has a
substantial interest in regulating the taxidermy industry.
According to Illinois Wildlife Code, taxidermists must keep
detailed written records of all animals they receive. They must
catalog the species, indicate the date the animal was received and
record personal information of the individual who delivered the
The code also permits DNR to conduct searches without a warrant to
ensure record-keeping compliance.
The fight over the warrantless searches began when taxidermist
James Redfern formed the United Taxidermists Association and filed
Redfern, who said he was angry because his taxidermy shop had been
searched once a year for the past 25 years, claimed the government
“has a compelling interest in the inspection of taxidermists’
written records, but lacks such interest with respect to inspecting
the corresponding tags attached to the animals.”
A federal judge dismissed the suit, and the 7th Circuit affirmed,
saying the association’s analysis was too narrow.
“The relevant inquiry here is whether a substantial government
interest informs the taxidermy industry as a whole,” according to
the unsigned opinion. “Although there is not much circuit court
precedent addressing that requirement, we conclude that the state’s
process is adequate and appropriate.”
“Removing the tagging requirement from the breadth of inspections
also would frustrate the purpose of the code: regulating the
capture and possession of wildlife,” the decision states.
“Allowing inspectors to search the tags enables them to verify the
accuracy of a taxidermist’s written records and ensure compliance
with the code.”