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B&C releases “Poach and Pay” study findings


No trespassing sign
Photo credit: Dreamstime

Poaching and other wildlife crimes occur daily in the U.S. While many states have established strict poaching laws and many poachers are convicted thanks to the busy officials constantly investigating these cases, the truth is that wildlife crimes like these are often not considered as high priority as other crimes.

The Boone & Crockett Club (B&C) released the results of a two-year study that focused on the illegal take of wildlife at the 83rd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference last month. The study, “Poach and Pay,” was funded by B&C and Leupold & Stevens and “polled state fish and wildlife agencies as well as law enforcement personnel” to gain a comprehensive look at how penalties, fines, and restitution plays out in real time.

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“The business of conservation comes with a few things we'd just as soon not have to deal with, but we must, and poaching is one of them,” said B&C President Ben B. Hollingsworth Jr. in a press release. “This is one of those issues that is best addressed at the state level, but before effective improvements can be made, we needed a view from the national level.”

The research discovered that wildlife crimes are usually brushed aside for “higher priority” crimes, resulting in dismissed or reduced fees for the individuals charged. The study also found that judges and prosecutors are not always fully aware of the “costs involved with the theft of wildlife from poaching and just how many people care about wildlife conservation and management,” according to a B&C press release. While some states like South Dakota have turned poaching convictions into a way to fund their fish and game agency and local school districts, there is still plenty of work to be done to make poachers understand that their crimes will result in serious penalties and fines.

If you are interested in reading the full report, it is available HERE.


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Bendrix B. - posted 11 months ago on 04-19-2018 12:57:18 pm
Rochester, MA

The biggest contributor to ongoing poaching is lax enforcement and prosecution. Here in MA, trespassing is a crime, but try to get a police officer to make an arrest. It won’t happen. If you want to prosecute a trespasser, you have to not only post your land, you have to swear out a complaint against an individual. That complaint won’t do any good until the second time that individual trespasses. After that, the police will charge the person, but the judge will just dismiss without a finding, or continue it for 6 months and dismiss it if there is not another charge. In other words, it is near impossible to punish a trespasser.

We have Environmental Police Officer here, not game wardens, and those dudes won’t even prosecute game violations that involve trespassing. It took me many calls and a week wait to get an EPO to accompany me on the property to view the illegal stand and the pile of corn (baiting is illegal here) under it. As we stood there observing the 50 yard circle of cut offs to open a shooting field, and the corn, I asked him if he’d issue a citation. He said no, and his reason was, “The judge would never go for it. You know its baiting, and I know its baiting, but the judge won’t buy that. Now, if it was apples! Then that would be baiting.”

So much for getting assistance from the EPO’s to stop a poacher and a trespasser.

In the end, I had to call in a favor from the police chief to have a talk with the guy, who then went through my property and stole every stand I had up. Throughout MA there is a large element with a total disregard for game laws and trespass laws.

Maine, where I am a property owner and a guide, is much better. The wardens there are aggressive investigators and prosecutors of poaching and trespass, and there is less as a result.

Poaching won’t stop, as with any other crime, as long as the perpetrators are left to perpetrate without consequences that matter.

Rick M. - posted 11 months ago on 04-11-2018 06:51:07 pm
Mammoth Lakes, CA

I know of a poacher in California that admitted under oath that he poached three nice mule deer with easy to obtain deer tags in trophy zones. They took his bow, this mounts, and suspended his hunting for three years. No time served and probably less than $700 worth of fines. That was a slap on the wrist. A DUI arrest carries more fines and running a red light has a higher fine. The fact that it takes some residents up to 7 or 8 years to draw a tag for the zones he took mule deer illegally every year was a joke. The district attorney is not a hunter and so few of those cases come across his desk was mostly to blame. He did not know what he did not know. We need prosecutors that are more educated on why stiffer penalties are needed, if we want to prevent poachers.