“Poaching is a crime committed by thieves – not hunters” and I completely agree, 100%. And based on what I have seen on the Internet, in the papers and first hand, poaching is as bad or worse than ever. These very strong words come from a joint research task force formed by a partnership between the world-class conservation organization the Boone and Crockett club and world-renowned optics manufacturer, Leupold & Stevens. The partnership called “Poach and Pay” was developed to study the possibility of higher fines in an effort to further deter poaching throughout North America.
The findings from this effort will not be fully known until its conclusion sometime during the summer of 2017. Based on preliminary research however, nearly 93% of respondents support higher fines for poaching, while 88% of those support even higher fines for the poaching of trophy class animals. To define a trophy class animal some states have already adopted the B&C scoring system to make a determination of such. Currently only the western states of Idaho, Montana and South Dakota use such a system to asses higher fines for larger animals. This needs to change.
Poaching is an egregious crime against all of us. This crime attacks our sport, our livelihoods, our credibility and reputations as hunters as well as undermines conservation efforts and are a theft on our public property. And to treat them, in some cases, like a simple speeding ticket or misdemeanor infraction should be an embarrassment to our judicial system. I have talked to many wildlife investigators, game wardens and biologists and nearly all can agree when it comes to prosecution of these crimes, we just are not doing enough. By the time many of these crimes are brought to court, they are usually pled down to fines that won’t even cover the raw costs of the investigation that built the case.