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December 19, 2008

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Discussion Topic: Should Repeat Poachers Be Considered Felons?

The Wyoming Game Wardens Association thinks so, according to this from an AP story in the Casper Star-Tribune:

People who repeatedly poach trophy game animals in Wyoming could face felony charges under a bill the state Legislature will consider in the session starting next month.

The Wyoming Game Wardens Association is pushing the bill. It would establish that anyone convicted of poaching certain trophy game animals for the second time within a 10-year period could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

What do you think?



yes because they broke the law and sometimes it could be federal


Absolutely. Guys like me who obey every single damned game law on the books have no place to hunt until clowns like that are gone. Not only do they not obey game laws, but if they're willing to break game laws, what other laws are they willing to break? I think they would pose a threat to another hunter if the situation presented itself. And people like me would BE that other hunter who would be unfortunate enough to cross paths with guys like that.


I think the "trophy" is the clincher. If we were talking some poor guy trying to feed his family in bad times, I would say no to the felony charges, but this I think is greed.Charge him with a felony and make him eat tufu for a year!


Hang the dirty bastards!


ABSOLUTELY! When they poach any animal they are stealing from the public and law abiding hunters of that state and America. Taking into account how much it cost to replace those animals it should be considered grand theft and a felony arrest should be upheld. Doesn't matter if it is a trophy animal or not! They are stealing the rights of law abiding hunters and naturalist when they illegally take any animal and don't care about anyone elses rights. PUT THEM IN A CELL WITH "BUBBA" FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS, LET THEM SEE WHAT IT IS LIKE TO HAVE SOMEONE TAKE THEIR RIGHTS AWAY!


This law should have been in the books a long time ago.

Mike Diehl

Depends. How does Wyoming treat other instances of grand theft?


While I agree with many of the sentiments expressed above, I have to disagree on the "felony" designation. Whilst it sounds admirable to charge a repeat offender w/ a felony, should people accused of petty crimes such as this (and let's face it, it is a petty crime in the scheme of things; it's not as if the poacher is stealing someone's life savings) lose their right to vote, right to firearms, and rights to freedom simply because they took an animal w/out permission. Our criminal justice system/scheme/laws routinely lets repeat offenders for serious forms of theft (think grand theft, robbery, burglary, etc) off with 18 or so months in jail. I think a better deterrent would be forfeiture of the kill, divesting of any proceeds derived therefrom, and a fine of $10K with an increase of $5K for every infraction thereafter (non-dischargeable), and community service. Maybe after a third offense, permanent revocation of that person's hunting privileges. 10 years loss of liberty for taking an animal (afterall, what's that animal worth?) is a punishment that surely doesn't fit the crime.


As an afterthought, Wyoming is full of outfitters, large landowners, and others who have a vested interest in seeing poachers severely punished. Has anyone given any thought to the possibility that their hands are in the pot, that the current poaching laws are designed to favor these entities and not the common person, and that their pocketbooks are favoring and pushing for harsh penalties for the peasants?


I don't know about you but they are stealing my hunting rights by illegally taking these animals. The fact that they got caught the second time means they didn't learn after the first time and probably took lots of other animals and didn't get caught. That is a slap in the law abiding hunters face. They (the poachers)are taking my and other hunters and future generations hunting rights and game from us and laughing about it. These poachers are people who illegally take bears and other animals just to get their paws and bladders to sell and make a profit from. People who think that the punishment is too hard on poachers should give up their hunting rights because when that animal should be walking in front of your sights legally it is too late because a poacher already stole your shot and turned into cash. Hell, the way you think, why even have hunting regulations and laws at all?


Kim, Poaching for profit is only profittable because it is illegal, when something is illegal it makes the price go sky high for something that is wanted. Price goes up because RISK increases, the more RISK the more the quicker the dollar is made. Making something a felony does not deter the crime, it just makes the price go up, giving people the incentive to risk it all. Cops aren't everywhere all the time, people will get away with it on many occasions.
Now a solution to this would be to take the laws off the books and make the crimes legal. But in doing this we must use our Property Rights. Just look at the meat industries, theres no shortage of cows in this world. If people who sold bear bladders and paws, wanted to remain in business they would want as many bears around as possible. If allowed to own these bears as cattle farmers own cattle there would be no shortage. With it being legal to sell bear paws and bladders, there would be no high money incentive to poach, because all the risk is gone(other than the bear of course). If one wanted to get in the business that person would have a legal means to do so. Also the strength of the populations of games would increase, just look at the herds in outfitters, they use the best science givin to them to make the healthiest deer herds. As for people who don't own thier own lands to hunt on they could join a conservation group, who instead of using members fees and wasting them by the millions in DC to lobby for legislation, they could actually BUY tracts of land all around the country, open for use by thier members, who could set thier own statutes and limitations on that land, and could hire a much more effective game officer/s who could site and take to court poachers, who then could be charged with trespassing, and theft. These wardens would be much more effective because they would only keep an eye on each particular parcel, not an entire county. Same could go for private land owners who gcould call the police if they catch someone trespassing and take them to court(you know just like now).


I agree with UB3L because it is a more practical approach. I would possibly add stepped sentencing as opposed to a felony conviction because of 1. all the other rights a person loses as a convicted felon and 2. What will be legally defined as poaching? Example: A decade or so ago my friend took his two young (but not too young) sons duck hunting. It was a good day and the ducks were coming in fast making the shooting quick. In the process one of my friend's sons lost count and shot one duck over the limit. It wasn't intentional, but it happened and it was only discovered when the federal game warden checked their buckets. My friend admitted to the warden that it was one of his kids, but he was the responsible adult and as such, he should receive the ticket. The warden obliged him and he went to court and pleaded guilty to what turned out to be a class 3 misdemeanor. Despite the warden speaking on his behalf he received the maximum penalty I assume because it was in a federal court. If that one duck was considered poaching (he did have to pay a ridiculous replacement cost), then under the proposed concept of two convictions constitute a felony he can never make another mistake again whether it be doves, ducks, or whatever. Mistakes happen to all of us and anyone who has not ever made one afield most likely doesn't hunt much. I personally have doubled (two doves, one shot) on my last bird of the limit of (12) doves. I retrieved only one and left the other in the field. I think that was wasteful, but hey the limit is twelve. I agree that something must be done to eliminate poaching, but the law must be carefully crafted to protect the hunters who make an honest mistake. A felony conviction is a very serious thing and should not be taken lightly.
Sorry for the long post.


UB3L I dont think it makes a differance if there hands on in the pot. It doesnt change the fact that these poachers are commiting a crime while people like us are obeying the law. Something tells me that outfitter owners dont have a lot of political pull though.



I think it makes a great deal of difference because if the outfitters hands are in the pot, then the laws could be skewed to favor outfitters. Look at labor law in the US, prime example.

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