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Poaching is Serious, But Not a Felony

There’s a proposal in Pennsylvania to make poaching a felony level offense under some circumstances.  I can’t agree with this:

House Bill 97, sponsored by House Game and Fisheries Committee chairman Edward Staback, proposes to do just that for a variety of wildlife violations. The 21-page bill would create felony-level offenses, with the possibility of imprisonment, for significant poaching activity. The bill, which was introduced and referred to the Game and Fisheries Committee on Jan. 28, has 23 co-sponsors, none of whom is a local elected official.

“This [bill] would elevate the punishment for those who willfully steal Pennsylvania’s wildlife resources to the same degree as any other major theft offenses,” said Carl Roe, Game Commission executive director. “Presently, such violations are classified as summary offenses, which are on par with a traffic ticket.”

The most it ought to be is a low misdemeanor.  One hangup the sponsor has is the fact that NRA would not back the bill with language in it to confiscate the firearms of poachers.  That has now been taken out.  I hope the NRA will not back this bill even without the language in it.  Anyone found guilty of felony poaching will have all their firearms confiscated for life, because they will become prohibited under federal law.

I don’t have a problem with certain, more serious poaching offenses being a low level misdemeanor, but not a felony.  Poaching is often something done by young people with poor judgement.  People shouldn’t have their lives ruined by it.

11 Responses to “Poaching is Serious, But Not a Felony”

  1. jon spencer says:

    I could see poaching for profit as a felony.
    There are people who are commercial poachers, these should be considered thieves.
    The taking of poached game for your own use should stay as a misdemeanor.
    As soon as money changes hands it then becomes time to start looking for higher charges.

  2. Joe Allen says:

    It occurs to me: the more things that are considered felonies, the more people that can’t own guns. Or vote.

    It’s a wonder they haven’t made speeding a felony.

  3. Carteach0 says:

    One thought….. poaching happens more often as times get harder. People with families to feed are frequently the culprits.

    Another thought…. the more things that are illegal, and the more illegal-er they are, the more government can control people. Rand had that part right….. you can’t control innocent men, so make everything against the law and everything illegal. Now everyone is a criminal…..

  4. Chuck B. says:

    So, if a desperate man in Pennsylvania shoplifts a few steaks from the market to feed his family, or, for the same motive, even if he runs out of the place with an entire cart full of groceries without paying, the man gets charged with a misdemeanor as long as the total value of the food is below the mark set for a grand larceny offense.

    This same desperate man in Pennsylvania who poaches a deer or two gets charged with a felony no matter what his circumstances are under this new proposal.

    Are deer really that precious in Pennsylvania? Not as far as I can tell. I’m always hearing about how there are too many of them all over this Commonwealth. This proposal seems to me more like a means to another end here – an underhanded scheme to strip gun owners of their Second Amendment rights in tough economic times, when the temptation to poach would be at its highest.

  5. Jim W says:

    I poached all the time in HS. I simply didn’t know any better. Never occurred to me that I didn’t have the right to run around my parent’s property shooting wild animals.

  6. Even if reduced to a misdemeanor, grading could still be an issue.

    In Pa., most M1 convictions still make you federally prohibited to own/possess, and an M2 (or higher) conviction disqualifies you from obtaining a LTCF.

  7. Xrlq says:

    You can’t tell from the linked story whether a conviction under HB 97 would lead to loss of guns under federal law or not. To know that, you’d need to know not only that the offense would be classified as a felony, but also what the maximum prison sentence would be. Strictly speaking, 18 U.S.C. 922(g) does not generally deny guns to convicted “felons” but to anyone convicted of a “crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.” If the maximum sentence is a year or less, it may well be considered a “felony” under state law but for federal purposes (at least as they relate to gun ownership) it’s not. Note that the converse is not always true, i.e., a misdemeanor punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment is not considered a “crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year” (see 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(20)(B)) even though a “felony” carrying an identical maximum sentence would be. That alone is reason enough to push for the offense to be a misdemeanor rather than a felony, if only because someone may push to increase the sentence in a future session without even thinking about the gun issue.

  8. “You can’t tell from the linked story whether a conviction under HB 97 would lead to loss of guns under federal law or not. To know that, you’d need to know not only that the offense would be classified as a felony, but also what the maximum prison sentence would be.”

    No need to wait. The maximum sentence for the lowest grade felong (F3) is 7 years, and the maximum sentence for an M1 is 5 years. It doesn’t matter what the sentence “would” be, but rather what it “could” be, which has already been decided, and clearly exceeds what is necessary to make you a prohibited person.

  9. vinnie says:

    How to tell a poacher: You find a buck deer or bull elk carcass with the head and antlers or just the antlers removed. Slap these guys around a LOT!

    If you find a pile of guts and the head hide and feet look for hmmm… Squirrels, yea, the squirrels did it, that’s the ticket.
    People gotta eat.
    I think deer hunters should take a year off. That would catapult us into the forefront of the media. Deer kill more people that any other wildlife. Hunters are a big part of many economies.
    I used to hunt for food. I like venison. I will take a doe over a buck every time I get a chance legally.

  10. sim says:

    Here’s one about 2 NY State troopers caught poaching while on duty! Protect and serve it up.
    http://www.buffalonews.com/260/story/594704.html
    I had to laugh when I read that they lost their hunting privileges until 2013. Apparently they kept their gun(s) and their jobs.

  11. sim says:

    oops, it was Michigan–my bad.

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