Not Your Honest Angler

New, stiffer poaching laws aren't really out to punish the angler or hunter who mistakenly goes over the bag limit in an honest mistake. Laws are being tightened to stop repeat offenders and those who knowingly kill or catch large quantities of game [source: Outdoor Central].

Poaching Laws

In the 1500s, killing deer meant death to anyone but royalty [source: nationmaster]. Between the mid- 1700s and the first half of the 1800s poachers were hanged or sent to Australia, especially if guns were used or a gamekeeper wa­s injured in the crime [source: Scribd].

It used to be that poachers were able to keep their licenses as long as they paid their fines, and in most states, jail time was unheard of. Today, as poaching problems grow and more species are becoming threatened or endangered, laws are getting tougher and citizens are getting angrier. Law-abiding hunters view poachers as villains who ruin the good name of legal hunting.

Currently, poaching laws vary by state. In Pennsylvania, while poaching is considered a summary offense with no chance of imprisonment, lawmakers are actively pursuing stiffer penalties and fines. West Virginia has lower fines but imposes stiff jail terms for poaching offenses. A third offense gets you a felony conviction, with up to a $10,000 fine, one to five years in prison and a lifetime hunting license revocation [source: Pennsylvania Game Commission].

Ohio toughened its laws recently to include restitution values based on true-market value, fines and revocation of hunting licenses not only in Ohio but also in neighboring states [source: BuckeyeFirearms]. In Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources cannot only confiscate a poacher's hunting and fishing licenses but also his boat and gear as soon as the value of whatever was poached hits $500 [source: Great lakes Directory].

Canada is battling its own poaching wars, but you might be surprised to learn that it's for fish. Using large drift nets, poachers target salmon, sturgeon, rockfish and shellfish. Canada does not only punish the poacher but also whoever purchased the poached fish.

The effects of poaching probably have a wider range than you might think. Forge ahead to check out the consequences of poaching.

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