The colony of New York passes a law making it illegal to “gather, rake, take up, or bring to the market, any oysters whatsoever” between the months of May and September. This regulation was only one of many that were passed in the early days of America to help preserve certain species. In recent years, endangered species laws have been enacted in order to criminalize poaching for the protection of animals. However, earlier versions of these laws were more concerned with insuring that hunters would have a steady supply of game.
In 1699, Virginia passed a law to prevent people from shooting deer during half the year andMassachusetts made criminals out of those who exported raccoon furs or skins from the state in 1675.
Fish and game laws were not restricted to the East, though. After the near extinction of the buffalo (it is estimated that many millions of these animals were killed during the western expansion of the mid-to-late 1800s), it became a felony to kill buffalo anywhere across the country.