OR: Poachers of trophy wildlife beware
Offenders of amended law will get much higher fines
Feb 21, 2011.
Poachers of trophy wildlife beware
JOHN DAY – Poachers now pay the price for taking trophy big game – big
During last fall’s hunting seasons, Oregon State Police trooper Marv
Ritter investigated four incidents in which conviction could lead to new and
“Poachers take notice. It’s not just a $750 fine for deer and $1,500 for
elk any more,” said Ritter. “There’s definitely a price to pay for taking
large trophy animals.”
The beefed up amendment to the fish and game laws took effect in 2010,
with new fines including:
• Illegal taking of a four-point deer or larger, up to $7,500.
• Illegal taking of a six-point or larger elk, $15,000.
• Illegal taking of each moose with antlers, $25,000.
• An illegally taken mountain goat with at least one horn equal to or
greater than six inches, $25,000.
• An illegally taken antelope with at least one horn that’s at least 14
A conviction also can mean a minimum three-year suspension of their
hunting license; court costs and fees; payment for cut and wrap fees;
community service time; and probation. If the person had a prior record
involving poaching, the penalties could be even stricter, said Ritter.
Conviction also brings a minimum of a Class A misdemeanor to a
perpetrator’s record. In some cases, it could be considered a felony, he
Of the cases Ritter dealt with last fall, three involved deer that met
the four-point or larger stipulation, he said. The cases are still making
their way through the court system.
One deer was taken by a suspect who subsequently pleaded guilty to
illegal trespass, was fined $7,500 for damages and given a three-year
suspension of his hunting license. That defendant is seeking to appeal the
Ritter was involved in investigating another case of illegal trespass, in
which a 4x4 buck was killed. In a third case, the suspect didn’t have a deer
tag and allegedly took a 5x5 deer at night.
While those cases involved deer taken during hunting season, Ritter said
police also investigate cases involving animals taken out of season. Some
poachers take advantage of winter range, where game can congregate in open
areas, and some have cut horns off of animals, and left the carcasses to
waste, he said.
“People who do that can definitely expect a ride to jail,” said Ritter.
“Our goal is to get the word out in order to protect the wildlife
resource. Many of our big game herds are not doing well, and poachers
exacerbate that problem,” he said.
The law regarding big game, which establishes damages amounts for
unlawful killing of wildlife, was introduced by wildlife supporters seeking
to put bigger teeth into the law, particularly for trophy animals.
Legislators passed it in 2009.
OSP fish and game officers often detect incidents while on patrol. In the
majority of cases, however, catching illegal taking of wildlife is done with
the help of law-abiding people who witness and report “things that don’t
seem right,” Ritter said.
“The eyes and ears of others help us make these cases. It’s important
that if someone sees a crime in progress or one that has occurred, that they
call law enforcement,” he said.
Ritter said that people can call the OSP dispatch center, 541-575-0471,
or John Day Dispatch, 541-575-0030.
That help may even bring a cash reward, Ritter said. The Oregon Hunters
Association sponsors a TIP (Turn In Poachers) program, which provides
rewardS of $250 or more in some cases, for information leading to the arrest
and conviction of a poacher.
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