Poachers should give back to the resource
While Michigan’s 96th legislature was busy in late December passing an unbelievable 232 bills during the last few days of the lame duck session, one bill that somehow got left behind by was Senate Bill 1340.
SB 1340 would have drastically increased fines for poachers who kill trophy bucks – what most poachers are after to begin with.
SB 1340 had passed the Senate, but somehow got bogged down in the House Committee on Natural Resources, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation. Whether it was the DNR’s position that the bill needed to increase the time for which convicted poachers lose their license, or some other glitch, the bottom line is that the legislature failed to take action to stick it to those who steal our natural resources from us.
Had it passed, SB 1340 would have hit poachers hard in the pocketbook. For instance, if someone was caught poaching a 160-class buck they would have to pay close to $6,000 in restitution instead of the standard , paltry $1,000 that is currently being assessed across the board.
Hopefully, Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair Township), the bill’s primary sponsor, will reintroduce the bill in the near future and the legislative process will begin again.
If the DNR wants to put more teeth into the legislation and increase the revocation of license period, more power to them, but not at the expense of lighter fines. (I bet most poachers don’t even have a license to hunt, or take the time to do it legally.)
I’d like to see another common sense regulation attached to that bill. Often when poachers are sentenced, judges can’t find it in themselves to really sock it to the perpetrators. They let many game-law violators off with a small fine and some community service. If that’s the case, let’s make sure those community service hours are returned to the resource they stole from. Let’s make those convicted of poaching a whitetail, regardless of the size of the rack, complete their community service hours working for the Wildlife Division of the DNR. They could work deer check stations in the fall. Spend time doing habitat restoration and invasive plant management on state land in the spring and summer and, if nothing else, shovel snow at the DNR offices during the winter if there’s nothing else to do.
It’s makes no sense to me to have these punks paying of their community service hours by cleaning tables at an American Legion fish fry when they should be repaying their debt to the benefit of our natural resources and the folks who care so deeply about them.