Whacha gonna do when they come for you, bad beav, bad beav.
From the December 9, 2008 Austrian Times:
Green campaigners called in police after discovering an illegal logging site in a nature reserve – and rounded up a gang of beavers. Environmentalists found 20 neatly stacked tree trunks and others marked for felling with notches at the beauty-spot at Subkowy in northern Poland. But police followed a trail left where one tree had been dragged away – and found a beaver dam right in the middle of the river. A police spokesman said: “The campaigners are feeling pretty stupid. There’s nothing more natural than a beaver.”
Most crimes require the prosecution to prove a culpable mental state. For example, to prove murder the prosecutor must prove the defendant intended to kill the victim. On the other hand, to prove criminally negligent homicide, the prosecutor need only prove that the defendant was negligent.
Environmental laws are an exception to this rule and fall under the rubric of “strict liability.” To obtain a conviction for violation of an environmental law the prosecutor need only prove that the defendant engaged in the proscribed conduct (in this case, felling trees). His mental state is not relevant.
Now here’s my question for the materialists. Should the beavers be arrested and jailed for violating the environmental laws? It is no answer to say the beavers cannot form the requisite criminal intent. The crime is, after all, a strict liability crime and their mental state when they felled the trees is not relevant.