A state representative thinks the state needs a stronger deterrent to poaching, and wants to create it in the next legislative session.
Anyone caught poaching in Missouri faces a misdemeanor charge and a fine, but those fines are small compared to other states according to Representative Linda Black (R-Park Hills). She says it’s cheaper for some people to poach in Missouri than to legally hunt in their own states.
“We already have among the lowest permit fees in the nation, and so with our also increasingly low fine collection, it’s more productive to come here and poach a deer,” Black told Missourinet.
She’s proposing steeper civil penalties.
“Between $750 for white tail deer up to maybe two- or three-thousand for black bear or elk,” said Black.
Brandon Butler with the Conservation Federation of Missouri likes the idea of putting something stronger than fines in place.
“The fines aren’t uniform,” Butler said. “A different judge can levy a different punishment for poaching.”
Black believes poaching is a growing problem in Missouri that hurts both conservation and hunters.
“We are trying to enhance the elk population and the wild bear population to possibly have hunting season, but if we have people poaching those, that’s going to mean that those publicly entrusted animals or species are not able to be harvested in a legal way for those people who do abide by the rules,” said Black.
Other states have additional types of penalties for poaching. Iowa requires violators to reimburse the state for the value of the animal or animals taken illegally.