Juan (the perpetually unlucky jeweler from some of my previous questions on this site) decides to go turkey hunting in far-north Minnesota, near the border with Canada. Assume that it is legal to hunt turkeys there during this time of year.

He eventually finds a turkey and shoots it down as it is flying away from him, towards the nearby Canadian border. The turkey dies on the American side of the border, but lands on the Canadian side, within arm's reach of America.

Provided he doesn't step foot in Canada, may Juan reach across the border and retrieve his kill?

Note: while I've set the question in Minnesota, I'm interested to hear about differences in other states' pertinent laws.


Assume that there's a Canadian law-enforcement officer there to see what's happening. After all, if a tree falls in the forest, but there's nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Also, I'm interested in hearing about Canadian law affecting the matter, not just American laws.

  • 2
    We should mention the perennial Ubi non accusator, ibi non iudex.. You could amend your case so that he bird happens to land at the feet of a Canadian border patrol.-- As an unrelated aside, since you mention it: Israelis are war criminals, too. (Not meant as a political statement; this is law SE, after all.) Nov 21, 2023 at 4:34
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    @Peter-ReinstateMonica reinstating Monica is neither what she wants at this point (source) nor within the realm of likelihood sufficient to make it worth fighting for.
    – msh210
    Nov 21, 2023 at 5:46

1 Answer 1


I cannot prove a negative, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that there is no Minnesota law preventing Juan from reaching out from the US side and grabbing his bird from Canada. (you didn't ask about Canadian law.)

There are reasons to consider why such a specific law would be so impractical as to not exist:

  1. In the forest there is no visible line precise enough to determine exactly how much something as small as a turkey might protrude across a border. In fact most sections are a wide, rough cut slash through the woods. (see this for an example.)
  2. GPS isn't accurate enough to determine the precise location of a bird, or whether any part of a human body is across or not. (Figures on horizontal accuracy vary from 5-8 meters.)
  3. If the friendly relationship between nations makes it such that a secure border wall or constant patrols are unnecessary, it is unlikely a minor and temporary excursion would be either noticed or prosecuted.


  • There is no way that Juan would even be able to determine that his bird was actually in Canada.
  • There would be no way to detect and prosecute violations, or for law enforcement to determine that the bird was actually in Canada, therefore such a law would be unenforceable.
  • The State of Minnesota would have no incentive to punish hunters for retrieving lawfully harvested game from the border slash zone.
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    While I fully agree with the practical aspects you note, wouldn't Juan technically be importing a wild game bird carcass from Canada into the United States? Surely that's the kind of thing there'll definitely be regulations about. (In fact, a quick Google search found this recent USDA Import Alert on that very topic. Complying with all those rules would seem quite a challenge for Juan.) Nov 21, 2023 at 5:59
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    A border dispute might make such a hunt a big deal, but that's not the case on the border mentioned in the question.
    – vsz
    Nov 21, 2023 at 6:09
  • @IlmariKaronen, perhaps. But if you are going to use words like "technically" and "importing" to describe Juan's actions in this case then why not "immigration" and "passport" and "refugee" in connection with the bird's actions? Personally I think the question is rather silly in terms of potential real world implications, as I attempted to point out with mild humor in my since deleted first answer, and with a bit more reason in this one. Nov 21, 2023 at 17:29

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