Camo at the Capitol is a weekly blog written by MUCC Legislative Manager, Matt Evans
Matt EvansYesterday afternoon the DNR issued a press release reporting the first case involving the newly enhanced deer violation penalties.  A man from Lowell, Michigan was assessed a $335 fine and $12,000 in restitution to be paid to the state’s Fish & Game Protection Fund. In addition, he could lose his ability to purchase hunting licenses for the next five years.
For those of you that don’t know, the deer poaching penalties were updated last year by a package of bills led by Senator Pavlov, SB’s 171 & 172.  These bills sought to enhance the poaching penalties for illegally taking a deer and in part, stemmed from an MUCC resolution.  MUCC Region IV Vice President and Tri-County Sportsmen’s League member, Jim Pryce wrote the resolution to push for this legislation in 2010 after hearing a presentation given by former Conservation Officers on poaching rings in Michigan. The bills were based on similar laws in Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania that use a scoring system to determine fines paid on trophy bucks.
Under this law, antlered deer are assessed an additional $1,000 in restitution plus the already $1,000 for illegally killing any deer. Deer with eight points but not more than 10 are $500 a point, while deer with 11 points or more are assessed a penalty of $750 per point. In this particular instance the restitution was raised by $10,000 and added two years of additional license revocations.
These bills were passed in late 2013 and this is the first case of someone being prosecuted under the new law.  Initially there was some concern that judges would be hesitant to hand out such a high fine, however it is comforting to see that they understand the value of Michigan’s deer and are willing to help us protect game species from poachers. From the CO’s who investigated the case to the judge who levied the verdict, to the individual who called the tip into the RAP line, we applaud you for your work to deter poachers in Michigan.
We will never be able to fully keep people from poaching deer or other animals in Michigan but 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.
This is another great example of the power MUCC members have to impact the laws and rules that regulate our outdoors!  Regional and District meetings are not for a few months but it’s never too early to start thinking about your 2015 resolutions. Your ideas and resolutions become tomorrow’s laws!
And remember, if you see someone hunting, trapping, or fishing illegally, they are poaching! Please don’t hesitate to call the Report All Poaching hotline.  You are our first line of defense against poaching because the CO’s can’t investigate what they don’t know about.
RAP Hotline: 1-800-292-7800

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