May 2018 Issue – By Mike Bodenchuk, Editor-at-Large
The Hunting Report has strongly supported wildlife law enforcement to prevent poaching abroad and at home in the United Sates. The illegal removal of wildlife remains one of the world’s greatest threats to conservation everywhere, and in some areas various high value species are on the brink of extinction due to poaching pressure.
In the US, poaching has appeared to take two forms- the illegal taking of wildlife for utilitarian uses (food, illegal trapping to sell furs, etc.) or the poaching of large trophy animals. While both are bad, the latter is especially egregious as it puts all hunters in a negative public spotlight.
Beyond state enforcement efforts is the threat of losing your hunting or fishing rights for multiple years and civil restitution for the animals illegally taken. Usually, for trophy animals, the civil restitution is far greater than the criminal penalty and can serve as an additional deterrent.
The Boone and Crockett Club (Boone-Crockett.org) recently published a commissioned report: An Overview of State Fish and Wildlife Agency Restitution Programs for Illegally Taken Big Game Species. As part of the Poach and Pay Program, the analysis reviewed the current civil restitution penalty schemes in place and makes recommendations. It is interesting to note that many states have adopted accelerated penalties for trophy class male animals and some interesting formulas are in place to calculate the penalty. Texas, for example, uses the B&C score as a base, but then applies a mathematical formula to calculate the value. For pronghorn, for example, the formula takes the B&C gross score minus 40 inches and squares that value then charges $2.00 per inch. An 82-inch pronghorn would assess civil penalties of $3,528 [(82” – 40” = 42”) X (42”) X $2].
The report is available online at www.boone-crockett.org/about/poach&pay.asp. Hunting Report subscribers are among the leaders in wildlife conservation, and it might be interesting to see how your state stacks up against other states in civil penalties.