Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Poaching Works

Poaching Consequences

­Today­, poaching is seen by many as highly unethical. The consequence for poaching game, especially when that game is federally-protected, is high.

All across the world, certain species of fish and animals are seen as valuable commodities. Even when protected by laws, their numbers are decreasing due to high trade demands or black market prices. Elephants, tigers, rhinoceros and Asian bears face the biggest survival challenges due to poaching. These animals have body parts that are considered highly valuable.

More than 154 nations have signed treaties to regulate trade of more than 30,000 species of plants and animals that are threatened. Trade is banned for more than 800 species and is limited in 29,000 other species to prevent them from becoming endangered. The problem is that banning trade can increase the value of hide or body parts and put the species at an even higher risk for poaching and illegal trade [source: EarthTrends].

In the United States, game laws are in place to restrict hunting limits and protect the numbers of animals available year after year. When poachers kill out of season, or kill more than state bag limits, they jeopardize the health and longevity of the herd and interrupt breeding seasons. Though most game is plentiful, the rules and restrictions are placed to protect future populations and keep our natural resources available and abundant long-term.

According to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, a pre-spawn walleye that was illegally taken by a poacher can result in 2,000 fewer walleye. It also estimated that illegal kills equal approximately 30 percent of the annual harvest by legal means [source: Turn In Poachers].

At first glance, poaching might not seem like a large-scale problem, but it's a major issue that affects people, plants and animals alike. For more information about poaching and hunting, see the links on the next page.