Tougher punishment for poachers


There’s a saying that in Idaho you get two paychecks.

The first one may not be big, but the second arrives at five o’clock when people step away from the trailhead and disappear for a while.

When poachers poach, they steal our second paychecks. Thankfully, poachers soon will get whacked a little harder.

Under new state legislation that takes effect July 1, flagrant offenses like night-hunting or selling parts of poached animals will be punished more harshly. An additional $5,000 civil penalty for poaching an elk that qualifies as a trophy animal will be tacked on to criminal fines.

It’s about time. Judges will now have better tools to punish poachers and deter others who may be tempted to take a shot at a magnificent animal out of season. Judges need to use the fines the Legislature has given them. Poachers have gotten off too easily for too long.

In Fifth District Court Monday, a local man was sentenced to 60 days jail time with release for work, $3,300 in fines and supervised probation after pleading guilty to three poaching offenses. He was forced to forfeit his rifle and cannot buy a hunting license for nine years.

 

Was that enough? We don’t think so. The court should have forbidden him from buying a hunting license forever.

According to Idaho Fish and Game conservation officers, the man allegedly shot a large bull elk on Bennett Mountain, cut off the head and left the carcass in a bog.

They also connected him to two illegal deer racks, one still covered in velvet.

He had no hunting license or tags when the elk was killed, according to officials. The Bennett Mountain incident occurred before the season opened in a controlled hunting area.

About 1,600 hunters applied to hunt in that unit in Elmore County. Only about 115 got tags. They followed the rules. The poacher deprived them of the chance to encounter the animals he slaughtered. He wasted the animal’s meat and hide.

Idaho’s wildlife sets it apart from crowded places like New Jersey. The only thing preventing wholesale slaughter of the state’s wildlife are game laws and certain punishment for violations.

The value of big game animals, like the value of an unspoiled canyon is intangible. Yet each time a poacher gets away with wasting an animal, Idahoans’ second paychecks are worth less. The penalties for stealing those paychecks should be stiff. Or, Idahoans might as well be choking on bus exhaust in New Jersey.

 

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