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Felonious: MN's Plan to Increase Penalties for Poachers

PHOTO: Minnesota may increase the penalties for poaching, with a proposal for the most egregious cases to include felony charges and the revocation of hunting and fishing privileges for 10 years. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr.
PHOTO: Minnesota may increase the penalties for poaching, with a proposal for the most egregious cases to include felony charges and the revocation of hunting and fishing privileges for 10 years. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr.
March 30, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. – In the wake of several high-profile cases of illegal poaching in Minnesota, more severe consequences may be coming for those who intentionally violate the state's hunting and fishing laws.

Gov. Mark Dayton wants the Legislature to make it a felony for the most egregious instances of poaching.

Col. Ken Soring, chief conservation officer for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, says poachers could also have their hunting and fishing privileges revoked for up to 10 years.

"These are not counting errors – how many crappies are in the bucket?” Soring states. “These are people who, with intent, go out and steal the resources from the people of Minnesota."

The state's current poaching law only includes charges up to a gross misdemeanor and license revocations of up to five years.

This past January, the DNR seized 28 sets of antlers in a deer-poaching investigation in Dawson. And just last week, Soring says, two bull elk from a herd that numbered only 20 were illegally shot and killed near Grygla – in an area that's been closed to hunting for several years.

"The people of Minnesota place a very high value on our natural resources and on our hunting and fishing and trapping heritage,” Soring stresses. “And so, they're outraged when they see people that don't respect the resource, don't respect private property owners or fellow citizens."

Soring adds those who witness suspected poaching should call the Turn In Poachers hotline, which can be reached by cell phone by dialing #TIP.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN