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By W. Gardner Selby February 12, 2015

Florida's Alcee Hastings says "crazy" Texas has law forbidding bear-shooting from second floor

Crazy ol’ Texas, a Democratic congressman from Florida said and reaffirmed last week, initially noting the Republican-led Lone Star state left it to the federal government to set up its online marketplace for residents to shop for health insurance in keeping with the Obamacare law.

How crazy? There’s a Texas law, said Rep. Alcee Hastings, who represents a South Florida district, restricting the number of dildos a person may buy; Mostly False, PolitiFact Florida found.

In an interview with CNN, Hastings also let loose that there's a Texas law "that you can't shoot bears out of the second floor of a window." We spotted  the bear comment in CNN’s Feb. 5, 2015, news story; it came from the network’s telephone interview of Hastings.

Whoa (or whatever it is Floridians holler when they’re riding their gators).

We left messages with Hastings’ office and didn’t hear back. Next, we rang up Mike Cox, Austin-based spokesman for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, who offered his own whoa. In Texas, Cox said, "you can’t shoot bears," from any location. "You can’t shoot them from the second floor, you can’t shoot them from the first floor, you can’t shoot them from the 23rd floor. You flat can’t shoot them."

There’s this in a TPWD bear guide for hunters: "It is a violation of law to kill a black bear in Texas, with penalties of up to $10,000, added civil restitution fines, jail time and loss of all hunting privileges." Another snippet in the leaflet: "The black bear is a protected and rare species in the state of Texas." And we saw this on another department web page about Texas hunting regulations: "Black bears are protected and cannot be hunted or killed."

Separately to our inquiry, Jon English, an attorney for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, said the second-floor window claim reminded him of another myth about Texas barring hunters from firing at buffalo from the second story of a hotel.

Similarly, a librarian at the Legislative Reference Library in the Texas Capitol replied by email that its researchers didn’t find evidence of a law restricting bear-shooting from the second story.

We identified one instance in which a person may shoot a bear in Texas. Under the state’s penal code, it’s a defense to prosecution for a person to shoot a dangerous wild animal, including a bear, in a public place if they have reasonable fear of bodily injury.

Our ruling

Hastings said a Texas law says "that you can’t shoot bears out of the second floor of a window."

We failed to learn where he heard or read this. His contention that Texas is so crazy that it has a second-floor bear-shooting law is flat wrong. Texas has no such law. Instead, it forbids hunting of bears, a protected species regardless of the windows they're standing under.

From the windowed second floor of the Austin American-Statesman’s building, we find this claim incorrect and ridiculous. Pants on Fire!

PANTS ON FIRE – The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.

Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.

Our Sources

Audio, Telephone interview of Rep. Alcee Hastings, CNN, Feb. 5, 2015 (received by email from Alexandra Jaffe, reporter, CNN, Feb. 9, 2015)

Telephone interview, Mike Cox, news team lead, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Austin, Feb. 6, 2015

Leaflet, "Bear Safety in Mind, Hunter's Edition," Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (accessed Feb. 6, 2015)

Web page, "Nongame, Exotic, Endangered, Threatened & Protected Species," from Outdoor Annual, 2014-15, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (accessed Feb. 6, 2015

Email (excerpted), Robert Kepple, executive director, Texas District and County Attorneys Association, Feb. 6, 2015

Email, Melanie Harshman, senior reference librarian, Legislative Reference Library, Feb. 6, 2015

Texas laws, "Chapter 822.101, Texas Health and Safety Code," "Chapter 42, Texas Penal Code, Disorderly Conduct and Related Offenses," Texas Legislative Council (accessed Feb. 6, 2015)

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Florida's Alcee Hastings says "crazy" Texas has law forbidding bear-shooting from second floor

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