Game Laws Need Even Bigger Teeth
When an Allegheny County man was sentenced to jail last week for
poaching, the case set an important precedent.
And it also exposed a serious shortcoming in the law.
According to a Pennsylvania Game Commission release, Anthony
Mark Marasco was sentenced to two 90-day concurrent prison
sentences and ordered to pay more than $4,750 in fines after being
convicted of his fourth poaching offense in 13 years. Marasco was
found guilty of several charges, including the unlawful killing of
big game, in this case a turkey, and hunting while on license
revocation. Those two charges landed Marasco a pair of 90-day jail
sentences, and made him the first person to receive jail time under
the provisions of a new law that took effect last September.
It’s a positive in the sense that the case sends a strong
message to poachers that jail time is a real possibility.
But as I read through the list of charges that Marasco was found
guilty of, the penalty for one was seriously lacking.
Marasco was found guilty of unlawfully shooting on or across a
highway, a charge for which the district judge assessed a $300
fine. According to the Game and Wildlife Code, the fine for such a
charge ranges from $150-$300, so Marasco was hit with the
It should be higher.
Section 2504 basically states that it is unlawful for someone to
shoot at game while it is on a public highway or shoot across a
highway unless the line of fire is high enough to preclude any
Define high enough. Does that mean higher than the roof of a car?
Higher than a tractor trailer?
The wording of the law is too vague and needs to be defined, and
the fines for anyone violating it need to be raised.
Shooting across a highway is one of those situations where
someone could easily be killed. Imagine if a motorist traveling the
interstate is struck and killed by the bullet from a hunter
shooting at a deer on the other side. Such an incident would give
the sport of hunting a horrendous black eye. But, even worse would
be the loss of life resulting from the act.
Shooting across a roadway, regardless of elevation, should not
be allowed in any form. For an act that puts lives at risk, a $300
fine isn’t even a slap on the wrist.
For decades our poaching laws have lacked any teeth, until now.
The Marasco case proved it.
Let’s hope it also opens the door for our state legislators to
give some teeth to a violation that truly puts human lives at