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American Handgunner May/June 2012 Digital Edition - Page 34
COPTALK opinionandfactsfromthemeanstreets massadayoob when Police rural police have learned over the years there’s a place for everything from .22 long rifle to 12-gauge slugs when animals of various sizes must be humanely destroyed. often, all the officer will have to deal with the animal problem is the pistol on their hip. this .45 Acp, a Springfield xd with tlr-1 light, can do the job on moose or big bovines. must i shoot n many police departments, particularly the smaller and more peaceful ones, most of the rounds fired in the line of duty involve “humane destruction” of injured or dangerous animals. The rabid skunk reported by a homeowner, the deer lying plaintively in the road with its spine shattered after it ran in front of an automobile, or the snarling dog charging a cop who is serving a warrant. In the Ayoob Files column in this issue, it discusses the Zanesville, Ohio incident in which the local sheriff’s department had to euthanize 49 exotic animals that had been released upon their community by an angry man just before he blew his own brains out. Some of those officers were hunters — one responded to the scene with his personal Remington 700 in 7mm Magnum — and did good work with it. However, the cops found no sport in it. I spoke to the Sheriff who ran the sadly necessary containment operation, Matt Lutz, and several of the deputies, and to a man they found it grimly depressing. Not to mention dangerous. There were 35 lions and tigers that had to be accounted for. A male Bengal tiger can reach 580 pounds, and a male African lion averages 400. When I was in lion country in Africa, the professional hunters I was with favored the .458 Magnum with 510-grain softnose bullets. The lawmen that dealt with the Zanesville situation primarily had 55-grain .223 ammo. These cops definitely got their daily adrenaline requirement — but they didn’t get any sport out of it at all. 34 GunS animals CriTTer D edicated critter guns in police cars are not the norm today, as it was in many, more rural agencies years ago. Today, an officer is expected to do the task with the patrol weapons he has at-hand. In northern New England, where all my own police service has been, the biggest critters we’ve had to deal with at roadside were moose. A 12-gauge slug to the head generally concludes the animal’s pain decisively. Alaskan cops, who often have to shoot bears, have repeatedly told me the Brenneke-rifled slug is likewise very effective on their big animals. Bystanders may have gathered around the poor run-over beast that needs to be shot, and might generate a public relations issue. When you put a .357 round into the head at close to muzzle contact, eyeballs can pop out and brain matter can spray. “Mommy! Lassie was hurt, and instead of helping her, they blew her head all over the place! Wahhh!!” This had been the rationale of the .22 in the police cruiser before I ever pinned on a badge, and it’s understandable. Better to explain what you’re going to do and ask them to leave if there’s time. anyone see the raccoon that just bit my kid?” The latest medical advice I’ve received is the medicos need the entire brain of the animal intact to examine, to see if it was rabid or not. If they don’t have that, they have to assume it was rabid; Prophylactic treatment for rabies is not only rather painful, but potentially life-threatening in and of itself. Keep a bottle of Clorox or similar bleach in the trunk of the patrol vehicle: it’s the best cleanser if you’ve had to put your hands on an animal that was rabid or have contaminated yourself with blood, saliva, etc. Now aren’t you glad those nitrile gloves are on your duty belt? caveats c onsider backstops and shooting backgrounds, and where a ricochet might go. Be sure you’re using something that will stay in the animal, or in the ground beneath it if it’s already down. You know the old thought process of: draw an X between left eye and right ear and right eye and left ear, and shoot for the intersection of the X. Well, for many animals, that’s a little low and goes below the brain, and sends matters downhill fast. I learned from experience to go about a third above the centerline of that “X” on a standing, facing animal to get an instant humane kill. On steers and hogs, the base of the skull, shot from behind never failed me, but I never had to shoot a tiger there with a low-penetration .223 round either. One deputy in the Zanesville incident did have such a shot fail. If the animal is dangerous, keep your distance. The Ohio officers in the private zoo escape understood this, and it almost certainly prevented some from being mauled or killed. If you think the animal is rabid, try for a vital-zone body shot. If Murphy’s Law holds true, as soon as it’s down someone will run up yelling, “Did * the .458 Magnum, or even .45-70s (like these, and the matching Sabatti double rifle) are not generally standard items in the police armory. but you may wish they were. WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MAY/JUNE2012