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 below.

Re­lated HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Close, Rob. "The Cumnock Poaching Riot of 1833." Ayrshire History. (Accessed 11/28/08)
  • Espina-Varona, Inday. "Chinese poachers financed by organized crime, protected by political corruption." Cyber-Diver news Network. (Accessed 11/28/08)
  • Jio, Sarah. " When 'social poachers' snatch your friends." (Accessed 11/28/08)
  • NationMaster. "Encyclopedia, Poaching." (Accessed 11/28/08)
  • Nielsen, John. "Poachers Target African Elephant for Ivory Tusks." National Public Radio. (Accessed 11/28/08)
  • Outdoor Central. "Tougher poaching laws take effect March 1." (Accessed 11/28/08)
  • Pennsylvania Game Commission. 2008 Press Release #015-08 "Game Commission Delivers Testimony Supporting Legislation to Increase Fines and Penalties for Wildlife Violators." (Accessed 11/28/08)
  • Pynn, Larry. "Shifting Seas Part Four: The war on poaching." The Vancouver Sun. (Accessed 11/28/08)
  • Scribd. "Teachers Notes-Poaching." (Accessed 11/28/08)
  • Wagener, Amy. "Endangered Species: Traded to Death." EarthTrends. (Accessed 11/28/08)