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Is Poaching Worth It?

We have all been privy to a poacher or otherwise unethical individual that continues to push moral boundaries and cross legal lines just enough to make you cringe or sometimes flat out turn them in for their dastardly deeds. Oftentimes it is someone that grew up shooting deer whenever and wherever to feed their families to satisfy a legitimate need but this once seemingly noble concept has morphed into something ugly. Ultimately, these people have no regard for law and worse yet, their fellow Americans. After all, the animals they are profiting on belong to all of us. 

Not only do we see celebrity hunters selling out just to keep a show going and their social media page popping, but we also see individuals develop a serial poaching habit…in the end, most are getting off with a slap on the wrist and a short ban from hunting at best. So to answer the title to this article, for many the answer could be, “yes” it’s worth the risk because the penalties are traditionally not enough to cause a reason to stop. I think we can all safely say that poaching convictions haven’t had enough bite and game agencies don’t have enough time to gather strong cases and slap these people hard enough. Perhaps there is hope! 

Recently, IDFG hit one of these cowards a bit harder than “normal” and although it might not seem like enough, it is definitely a step in the right direction. 

On December 14th, 2021 Paul D. Coward (such a fitting name) was convicted of outfitting/guiding without a license, unlawful possession of firearms, illegal hunting practices and poaching a mountain goat in Washington State. This shortlist was what IDFG was able to make stick. We all know this list is much longer if the full story was told. Sadly, the prosecution took place WAY too late, there have been over 23 YEARS of complaints against Coward and a three-year-long investigation before justice was served!

WHAT!!? 23 years of complaints, dang! However, on the upside, Coward’s hunting privileges were revoked for 10 years in 48 states, and he was handed 90 days of jail time to be served in three separate sentences during the month of September of 2022, 2023, and 2024! This is to keep him out of the woods during his peak poaching season. All that and $16k in fines! Not bad, I particularly like the September sentences. 

In the end, we have all broken a law or crossed a line either on purpose or by accident. It happens, it’s hard to stay on top of all the rules and I am personally not one to ask for more laws or regulations. However, when it comes to something near and dear to my heart like the preservation of hunting and fishing. I appreciate a stiff upholding of the law. 

Will results like this create hesitation for other poachers? Share your thoughts and experiences! -JB

About Jordan Breshears

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10 comments

  1. The severity of a sentence follows guidelines and is a judicial “decision”. Prosecutable evidence beyond a doubt is a critical factor. Hearsay or non evidence based facts are worthless in judicial decisions. The spectrum of sentences, fines, suspension etc have limits. Should a death sentence be the “decision” or do nothing be the decision?? Those are the ends of the extremes ! In between those extremes the answer lies. A judge and prosecutors come to a decision within the confines of legal allowable decisions.
    The question is do you trust the legal system and it’s decisions? Many factors come into play when you are wearing the Robe and holding the Gavel !
    They usually get it right based on the legal boundaries of the system and circumstances.

  2. Like I’ve said before take everything away from them that they used in getting that animal. Truck, gun, camping gear etc. and also Levey a heavy fine and jail. Also time working for the game department or another agency. I believe parts of Canada does this and other countries are much tougher than we are.

  3. Should’ve been 90 day sentences for 5 years, 10 year ban, and $16,000 fine to be paid BEFORE he can even have a chance to hunt again once the 10 year ban has been satisfied.

  4. Also no mystery why poaching is worst in Utah when sportsmen see their public tags stolen and auctioned off by SFW. Creates a lot of discontent in both residents & nonresidents alike.

  5. ROBERT BRYAN MOOREFIELD

    There have always been bad people disrespectful of the law and as long as the penalty doesn’t fit the crime it will continue. I’ve quit watching ALL HUNTING SHOWS but yours. Your the only ones that do it almost exclusively on public ground. Keep up the good shows and articles.

  6. Poaching will only get worse now that country is going backwards

  7. 23 years of complaints! The sentence in this case was to lenient! Should have been banned from hunting for life.

  8. I agree with Paul. Very lenient! He shld have been banned for at least the 23yrs it took to get him if not being banned for life! He’ll probably still go out and poach! Also he shld have spent 90 days in jail during the Sept. Oct. Nov months for at least 5yrs. Plus after 23yrs it shld have been a $50k fine. They need to stick it to guys like that!!

    • How is guiding a hunt pouching explain that to me!! If a guy calls in an elk for you and you pay him for helping you tag an animal that you obviously can’t hunt or call in yourself how is that poaching. Please please explain!!!

  9. $16000 in fines that is only if you get caught. There are lots of hunts that cost more than that. If he got away with it for 23 years 16000 x 23 =368000 to get caught was cheap and only if you get caught. Swf in utah gets all the public tags for free to sell to the highest bidder. I think this helps fuel the poaching thugs

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