Thursday, June 27, 2013

Poaching as a way of life

Earlier today I came across this article in the Idaho State Journal. It tells the utterly sad and yet completely believable story of a serial poacher and his latest bout with the law.  From the story:
"The charges against Pierce stated that he had illegally killed a number of ducks and geese with a .22 caliber rifle both during the legal take season and after the waterfowl season closure.... Some of the geese recovered at Pierce’s residence were extremely rare, naturally occurring only once in tens of thousands of birds."
His penalty?  Loss of hunting privileges for 15 years.  While this sounds severe to people like you and me, my guess is that it amounts to doing him a favor. This is a guy who takes game out of season, with an unapproved weapon, with a history of game violations dating back to 1998 when he was 15 years old.  Is he really going to let something like the lack of a license deter him?  All they've done is save him the $60 each year that he paid for it. It would've served the state better to make him buy the license but arrest him if he was caught using it.

Wait, they did fine him $1175. Yeah. He could find enough crap in his garage to pawn and pay that by Monday.

My prediction? They'll end up catching him again, maybe he'll go to jail for a month and then get out with a stern "Next time you're caught you'll do the full term, I promise," and then he'll pick up and move to another state and do it all over again. The most pathetic aspect of this tale is that after 15 years he still sucks at it. Yes, he will get caught again.

Here's the line that really got me:
"The system worked in this case exactly as it should have..."
The word they left out was finally. A well-functioning system wouldn't have let it get this far.

Ok, it's easy for me to sit here and armchair quarterback a judge I've never met without offering any suggestions, so I'll throw out what I feel is an appropriate penalty for a serial poacher:  make him live in Manhattan (New York, not Kansas) for 15 years. And tell him that rat season is only open on July 4.


  1. What's depressing is how little enforcement actually exists in most states. The serial poachers that get caught have likely been doing it for decades, and they're likely just the tip of the iceberg.

    1. There are so many acres and so few officers to cover them. If you can locate a copy, there's a book called Ramblings of a Lowcountry Game Warden written by a former DNR officer who covered the area around Charleston, SC. Lots of accounts of poachers and other crooks and a very entertaining read, and yes, it leaves little doubt that there's a lot of it going on.

  2. Game poaching laws are a sick sad joke. They don't do anything but temporarily inconvenience the serial poacher. Taking his guns, fining him, taking his rations of rotting hoarded meat - Doesn't teach him a damn thing except he's just going to be set back every once in a while. Think of all of their poaching that goes unchecked compared to the rare time they get caught.

    The three strikes law makes sense to me here-
    First offense they should give them a fine and revoke hunting privileges for a year - some people make bad choices and they learn from them quickly. The second strike they should confiscate their guns and revoke licenses for multiple years - make a hard headed bastard think it through. The third strike you're off to jail for a few years, can't own hunting implements (guns, traps, bows, etc.) or get a sportsman license for life and have to work on conservation projects while detained and after release. Brutal labor to help restore what they've helped destroy.
    Finally and most drastic - when serial poachers are caught hoarding meat and wild animal oddities they should be forced to eat it all - rotten, freezer burned, non-food items and all. Maybe they'll hate the taste of their hideous labors.

    I know this sounds rather Draconian these days but these guys get slapped on the wrist every single time and grow calus to the ruler with every strike.

    But as long as our broken system can't figure out the definition of a man made implement like marriage the natural world will suffer.

    I know that these deranged wierdos are a sliver of our population but they infect the world around us in massive ways.

    1. For whatever reason, most of society doesn't see game violations as all that serious, at least as compared to other things in the criminal code. Judges just don't want to fill the (already full) jails with poachers. Maybe we should create DNR work camps as part of the strike three you proposed.

  3. Surprised he wasn't called a "hunter" who took game out of season. That's how it's usually portrayed.