Anti-Poaching Bills Reintroduced
A pair of anti-poaching and anti-trespassing bills were reintroduced in the Michigan Senate yesterday. Senate Bills 171 and 172 were introduced last fall as SB 1340 and 1341, where they passed the Senate unanimously but didn’t make it to a House vote before the busy lame duck session ended.
Senate Bill 171, introduced by Senator Phil Pavlov (R – St. Clair Twp.) is based on an MUCC resolution sponsored by Jim Pryce, President of Tri-County Sportsmen’s League. It ties the restitution value for illegally taken whitetail bucks to their Boone & Crockett score in order to discourage trophy poaching. The formula for a B & C buck that scores over 100 is (gross score – 100)² x 1.65. For example, the restitution value on a buck that scores 150 would be $4,125, rather than the standard restitution of $1,000.
While some may say that this places a higher value on big bucks, the heftier restitution fee will discourage those violators who are only out for trophy animals, reducing the overall number of violators and ensuring a fair chance for deer and for honest hunters.
SB 172, introduced by Senator Tom Casperson (R – Escanaba) increases statutory damages and fines for recreational trespass. A property owner who sues a trespasser will be able to receive $750, up from $250, or actual damages (whichever is greater), in addition to reasonable attorney fees. Recreational trespass will continue to be a misdemeanor, but the fine will increase from a range of $100 to $500 to a range of $250 to $750 for the first offense. If a trespasser does it again within three years, the fine increases from a range of $100 to $1,000 to a range of $500 to $1,500. Provisions for revocation of hunting, fishing and trapping licenses, restitution and property forfeiture remain in place.
These bill are tie-barred to each other, which means both must become law for either of them to become law. Since they originated with hunters, they are great examples of how hunters police ourselves. While there are over 750,000 licensed hunters in Michigan, we’re still a minority of the population and bills like these, brought at the request of hunters, help make sure that we’re all behaving, which is essential to maintaining the both the wildlife we pursue and the acceptance of hunting by the non-hunting public.
Don’t forget that the regional meetings for MUCC Regions III and IV are coming up this weekend! Region IV will be Saturday at Saginaw Field & Stream Club on Saturday and Region III will be at West Walker Sportsman’s Club on Sunday.