Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Poaching penalties getting a closer look

State lawmakers spurred on by high-profile
cases, publicity

By Mike
Moore
Editor

Columbus – Stirred by recent high-profile poaching busts made by
DNR Division of Wildlife officers, a handful of state legislators
are taking note of the penalties handed out to these
lawbreakers.

And, in some cases, they’re not satisfied that the punishment
fits the crime.

Division Law Enforcement Administrator Jim Lehman said there is
a movement under way in the state’s General Assembly to look at
legislation that would stiffen penalties against those who break
wildlife laws, particularly in the cases involving trophy deer.

To do so, however, would take a change to the Ohio Revised Code,
which can only be altered by an act of the General Assembly, Ohio’s
lawmaking body in Columbus. The changes that legislators are
looking at, according to Lehman, involve the amount of restitution
convicted poachers are required to pay to the Division of
Wildlife.

As it stands now, the value of a white-tailed deer is $400. A
wild turkey is worth $300, according to Ohio statutes.

‘One thing might be to take into consideration the size of these
trophy deer we’ve seen come through in cases,’ said Lehman. ‘I
think we all know by looking at some of these deer that they’re
worth more than $400.

At least four high-profile busts in the past eight months are
helping make the case for stiffer penalties.

Just prior to the opening of the 2006-2007 deer season,
southwest Ohio wildlife investigators charged 11 people in two
separate cases with the illegal shooting of 150 deer and other
animals (Ohio Outdoor News, Sept. 15).

In Marion County last month, five individuals pleaded no contest
to more than 100 misdemeanor charges in a case that involved the
illegal killing of deer, turkeys, raccoons, and a beaver (Ohio
Outdoor News, Feb. 16).

Most recently, nine suspects were charged in Meigs County last
month for their alleged part in a poaching ring that targeted
trophy deer and turkeys over the past two years (Ohio Outdoor News,
March 2).

Those cases in part, according to Lehman, have generated some
phone calls to legislators from the hunting public. Lehman also
said this publication’s Cuffs and Collars section, compiled from
reports supplied by wildlife officers, has also generated
correspondence between the public and those who represent them in
the Ohio legislature.

‘You’ve all seen the Cuffs and Collars in Ohio Outdoor News,’
Lehman said at a February meeting of the Ohio Wildlife Council.
‘It’s very popular; people like to read these reports and they talk
about it among themselves.’

Later, Lehman said he’s encouraged by the response from Ohio’s
outdoorsmen and women.

‘I’m glad people are taking an interest in this,’ Lehman said of
the recent cases. ‘It shows there are hunters out there who care
and they don’t like it when there’s a lot of illegal things going
on.’

State Rep. Jimmy Stewart (R-Athens) is one of the state
legislators apparently willing to look into legislation to toughen
penalties against poachers. One of the larger busts in recent
history was in Stewart’s district in southeast Ohio and he said
then that he is interested in new legislation that would help deter
poaching crimes.

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