Home / General / Poaching / POACHING PUNISHMENTS: Does The Species Make A Difference?

POACHING PUNISHMENTS: Does The Species Make A Difference?



If you’ve been paying attention to my many rants on poachers over the years you know that I’m all for stiff punishments in deliberate and heinous poaching cases. I’m talking about the deliberate theft of wildlife from the public trust, not about the hunter who accidentally kills a hen pheasant or a sub-legal mule deer buck and reports themselves. Honest mistakes happen but premeditated acts of poaching, no matter the motive, are exactly what I labeled them above, theft, plain and simple. 

That said, I cannot help but having noticed some disparities in punishments between types of game animals. This past week I posted the results of a waterfowl poaching case from Michigan on the Wingmen Facebook Page. It received a ton of traffic and generated a lot of comments, spurring some excellent dialogue. The case in question was most certainly premeditated and a piggish display of human greed as the three poachers killed birds far in excess of their bag limits. The punishments include nearly $20k in restitution, permanent forfeiture of the guns used and the loss of hunting rights for roughly one year. I personally think they got off easy! That said, the day after I posted the news release on Facebook another Michigan poaching case popped up, this time it was an elk poaching case. 

Now before some of you walk away saying, “Michigan? Who cares?” I think it’s important to note that cases like these happen all across the country and are perhaps more impactful in the West as our big game herds produce vast amounts of monetary value for the states in which they reside making losing animals to poaching a pretty serious cut out of local economies. But here’s where my real question comes to bear. The elk poachers in Michigan are serving six months probation, loss of hunting privileges for 15 years (which I do not believe works, these aren’t hunters to begin with), and a $625 fine. They must also reimburse the people of Michigan $5K for the three elk killed. 

Shut The Front Door!!! $5625.00 for poaching three elk in a state whose total elk population lives in an area smaller than Park County, Wyoming? The waterfowl poachers have to pay roughly four times that much for killing over their limits on a baited hunting site. 

Now, I realize there are federal components to the waterfowl poaching case as any migratory bird poaching is subject to federal regulations but how in the world does the punishment fit the crime here? 

Let’s just focus on the money, as the loss of hunting privileges is a joke to people like this, they will still “hunt” every year. $20K in fines is a lot of dough however, and is truly impactful. Toss in some serious jail time and community service and we’re getting somewhere. 

The question remains though, why did the elk poachers get off so easy? I think it’s time that ALL states take a tougher stance on ALL kinds of poaching. Massive fines, equipment forfeiture, jail time and community service for Game and Fish related projects… you steal from the people, you pay the people back with the sweat of your brow! 

So here’s my call to action… we can make this a reality if we communicate with our legislators and game and fish directors and commissioners and judges. Until we get tough on poachers we will continue to lose precious natural resources like game birds and big game animals to the grasping paws of criminals who fear no retribution. Make it hurt and make them safe!

About Todd Helms

Avatar photo

Check Also

Hood Slidin’ Like Bo Duke…

In a headline that could come straight out of a “Dukes Of Hazard” episode a  …

$74,000 For Poaching… That’s More Like It!

In a case that reads like a Hollywood movie script, Cody W. Davis plays the …


  1. Randolph Holford

    Poaching is a blatant disregard for the law and the resource abs should be punished severely. I’m very certain that a formula could be devised for the monetary side of the equation but believe convicted poachers should be compelled to forfeit any equipment used in the crime, lose hunting and fishing privileges for life and serve a minimum of 1-5 years in prison. I expect some folks to say this is extreme punishment but the anti-hunters equate poachers to hunting. We must protect both the resource and those who hunt fairly, only severe punishments will accomplish both!

  2. Good article but the biggest group of poachers are the redskins. They go unchecked and kill out of season using Whiteman tools while using their ancestors card for this right. Totally disgusting. We as conservationists, every other color skin but red,, have been reduced to only a couple draw tags while the redskins kill as many as they want without paying any license fee or tag cost, let alone year after year while every other colored skin human must get lucky and be drawn. Was an average of every 20 years to get drawn but now that tags have been reduced odds are every 50 years to get drawn for these trophy bull tags. Talk about racism. If these redskins would use a pony and their home made bow and arrows I wouldn’t bitch about them constantly.

    These poachers, redskins, are the worst humans on the planet because they know it is against anything their ancestors stood for.

    You are correct about costs being whacked from state to state. Let alone so little when there are so few animals in the first place.

    A crime with a weapon is a felony against another human. Those without a voice get screwed again because they have no rights or voice even though we share the same planet. Bottom line a crime committed using a weapon is a felony no matter if it is human, animal or plant. Accidents happen and should be looked at differently. Those with bad intentions get felonies no voting rights, no weapon rights, loss of hunting privileges for life. 3 strikes you go for life.

    These redskins killed over 60 trophy bulls last fall when there is only 10 tags for every other skin color on this planet in this area. They wasted half the meat on every carcass Nevet once did they take front quarter. Many times it was head and back straps only. Feds and f&g were brought into it but nothing ever happened to these poachers. Nothing is a travesty. Maybe it is only happening here in Washington state and just the Nez Perce scum.

    Rules are for reasons but by letting one race do as they want while the rest must bow down is racism at it’s finest. I write letters to the west coast idiots in government in this state constantly on all sorts of issues this one being #1 topic with wolves and dams being a close 2nd. Even went to jail for writing a letter because they took my grandchildren rights away from shooting a semi auto .22 rifle until they are 21 years of age and passes mental test. Our children have lost their 2nd amendment rights without being able to vote on the issue themselves due to age. Talk about destroying their constitutional rights. I have many battles going.

    We must use feelings and emotions against these liberal agendas or we will lose. Facts, science and biology is no longer valid in their minds.

    • WTH! Redskins “REALLY?!” Native Americans pal!!

      • I’m done with the PC cancel culture bullshit…a fag is a fag…the poacher redskins need to stay on their reservation and hunt and poach their land not where the rest can only hunt because they aren’t redskin colored. Pussification of America. Your feelings mean nothing get over yourself pal!

        • LOL Nice to meet the guy who shows up at the mall and starts shooting random people out of HATRED. Have a FUN time in prison when you get there.

          • Ignorance is a character defect. I never once said I hate anyone. You must be one of those liberal fag mind readers. Or just Ignorant. Your choice.

          • Herdbull you’re a full blown RACIST (i.e. hate) based on your comments you may want to be tested for ignorance yourself. As much as I’ve enjoyed your diatribe I must move on to conversations with people who have a much higher IQ and better moral values than yourself. Enjoy life in your bubble pal!

          • Thinking that leaving more than half the animal and taking just the heads and backstraps is humane. I cannot fix your ignorance or stupidity you must do that yourself.

  3. Those good ole white skins destroyed 60 million bison in less than 50 years and u cannot even hunt them unless u win the crazy odds tag draw.

    If u think Natives (by the way ur not a native) tare committing crimes turn em in otherwise this sounds like a lot of story telling for the camp fire after dark.

    Native “red skins” have some of the best trophy managed game – go look at White Mountain Apache Res, or Jicarilla or Navajo Nation. Fat chance u will ever hunt on any of those Native lands and they take good care of the habitat. The best elk hunt I have been on was the White Mountain bar none, the guides were fantastic, and the most professional out there !

    As for poaching – go ahead and sentence persons to death penalty ! Realize the trickle down affects as u ratchet one offense up what u do with each lesser offense ! Crime fits the punishment – maybe ? Maybe trust the Wildlife officials to determine the factors of the crime – as they now do. Felony in many states – that pretty extreme – go try to buy a firearm w a felony ? The reality is Game dept realizes those animals would have been harvested at some point – just not now and by some idiots illegally. They know what they are doing when they set fines and punishment – just like when u commit any crime some plea bargains facilitate the process in order to prosecute and save tax payers. U have to understand the whole story not the parts u choose !

    What should the punishment be if u hit an elk or deer with your car ?? Check the #s deer killed in Michigan before u talk about extreme sentences ! Some states 300-400 elk killed by cars each year too ! Why no punishments ? Accident not intentional ?

    Maybe you don’t get the death penalty for killing a deer with a car but how about life in prison instead for hitting the animal out of season with no license ! If it was a trophy maybe huge fine on top the sentence for hitting it ?? Extremes are extreme ! Lotta opinions out there !

  4. Donald F Beatty JR

    The REALITY is poaching of any degree won’t stop without SERIOUS jail sentences. I’m originally from MI and think the elk poachers should have received the same if NOT more fines and jail time.

  5. After reading the comments so far I wonder if I should go here. What I have observed over the years is the rising cost of license and tags to a point of some that are unable to afford the expense, that certainly does not excuse poaching. But can we distinguish from one that kills a game animal to feed his family to one that kills and leaves the animal to waste….

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.