Poaching Penalties

Poaching Penalties
(Carlos Gomez photo)

When following various game warden websites, including our own recently established "Oklahoma Department of Wildlife - Game Wardens," one only needs to briefly scan and you're made aware of just how bad poaching problems can be.

All kinds of wildlife waste and abuse is put on display via the Internet when working wardens are either asking the public for help on open cases or proudly highlighting great captures of the abusers. Common comments left by sportsmen on these websites are:

"Confiscate everything they own."

"Jail them and throw away the key."


"Revoke their hunting for life."


Sportsmen are united with wardens in their support for poaching penalties and the fervor they display for wardens to catch the wrongdoers.


For decades I have observed "the show," that dramatic presentation where prosecutors and their counterparts – the defense lawyers, and even judges – scream and rant in public view about the outrage they share on alleged wildlife crimes. Then when the “audience” looks away, everybody shakes hands and consummates their “back-room brother-in-law deals” over lunch.

A public outcry of stunned astonishment is posted in the comments section when and IF a warden site dares to reveal how serious violations are all too often just given penalties of a few hundred dollars. Hunting privileges are typically sought by wardens, but a one- or two-year suspension is usually all that is ordered, if any.


Light sentences are disappointing to everyone, so wardens are understandably slow to reveal those dismal outcomes. A few states have vigorous penalties handed down with consistency, but I believe game wardens across the country would tell you that is the exception and not the rule. They are not excited to talk about those things that happen to their cases outside of their control regardless of any amount of pleading, effort or influence.

Poaching Penalties
(Carolos Gomez photo)

However, it doesn't have to be that way. Good sportsmen rarely see the inside of a courthouse, so to understand how the system works and where it breaks down escapes many of the citizens who could help correct the issue.


Game laws, written by conservation-minded legislators, typically carry stiff enough penalties, but our laws LACK THE MANDATES needed to ensure the existing penalties will be imposed. Even when law dictates a particular penalty "shall be ordered," judges often issue that penalty as required by law and then sometimes simply follow up that stiff sentencing with the order of "suspended" or "deferred." Both mean that the penalty will not actually be enforced.

It will only be when our organized, voting contingency of sportsmen roar with an outcry loud enough about the breakdown in our system, will the lawmakers and courts bring an end to the light sentencing that plagues our wildlife protection.

Together, I know we can do it.

Recommended for You

Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

News

Game & Fish Magazine Names New Editorial Director

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

Adam Heggenstaller takes over after 14 years with NRA Publications.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead gets new product details from Simms Fishing Product's John Frazier about the new waterproof 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch.

Lure Lock Tackle Cases: No-Spill, No-Scent

Glenn Walker talks us through the soy-based technology that makes Lure Lock cases spill-proof and scent-proof. With Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

With the company's heavy involvement in initiatives like Kick the Plastic and Captains for Clean Water campaigns, Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead all about the sunglass maker's unwavering commitment to help the freshwater and saltwater environment.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Ammo

10 Best Long-Range Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range

Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

Catfish

5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

Keith Sutton - September 16, 2015

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near...

See More Stories

More News

News

Game & Fish Magazine Names New Editorial Director

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

Adam Heggenstaller takes over after 14 years with NRA Publications.

News

Behemoth Georgia Gator Wows the Internet

Scott Bernarde - March 07, 2019

But was it the biggest alligator ever recorded in Peach State history?

News

Elk Quest 2018

The Revolution with Jim & Trav

This week on "The Revolution with Jim and Trav" we're talking public land elk hunting, calling...

See More News

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×