Camo at the Capitol: Elk Poaching Bills Introduced

Before the Legislature went on Spring Break last week, it introduced a bill package that increases the penalties for poaching elk, moose, bear and many other species, building upon legislation passed last session increasing trophy deer poaching penalties that was based on a member-introduced MUCC resolution. A similar MUCC resolution supporting this current legislation is moving forward to our Annual Convention in June.
The base restitution penalties for poaching elk and moose would be raised from $1,500 to $5,000. Additionally, elk with eight to ten points (four-by-fours through five-by-fives) would be assessed and additional $250 per point, and eleven points (five-by-six) or greater would earn the poacher an additional restitution fee of $500 per point.
So, for example, a six-by-six bull elk would earn a poacher a $7,500 fine, and a seven-by-seven would earn a $8,500 fine. Additionally, a violator convicted of poaching an elk will lose their hunting license for the remainder of the year and be prohibited from hunting for an additional fifteen years.A person convicted of a second offense for poaching an elk will receive a lifetime ban for hunting any species.
A rash of elk poachings made the news this past fall, including one poacher who was caught after DNR Law Enforcement Division investigators found a store receipt in the elk's entrails.
Antlered moose would also trigger and additional $5,000 fine, for a total of $10,000. The legislation would also raise the restitution penalty for bears from $1,500 to $3,500, bearded turkeys from $1,000 to $2,000, and sets restitution fines for waterfowl ($500), hawk ($1,500) and eagle ($1,500).
This legislation is welcome. Every time a violator poaches an elk or any other species, all hunters get a black eye. When elk poaching stories like the ones this past fall hit the headlines, the general public doesn't always distinguish between hunters and poachers. Additionally, every elk that is killed outside of the lottery hunt system means fewer tags available for hunters who have applied for that license for years.
A bull elk graces the cover of the September 1970 Michigan OutofDoors Magazine. A bull elk graces the cover of the September 1970 Michigan OutofDoors Magazine.

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