California Bill Would Raise Trophy Poaching Fines to $40K

Send by email Printer-friendly version Share this

A bill sponsored by the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance and Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, D-Arcata was introduced to the California legislature that would raise poaching fines to as much as $40,000. The bill specifically targets criminal enhancements for taking trophy class game, hunting over bait, or the use of spotlights. According to, the bills sponsor wants to bring the poaching penalties in line with the rising market value of wildlife.

Chesbro's law comes after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009 signed another bill that increased the fines for poachers caught with more than three times the daily bag limit or if they have more than three times the possession limit for a game species.


arrowflipper's picture

About time...

It's about time states raised the stakes for those who steal from sportsmen.  Make the fine high enough that it hurts.  As the old saying goes, "If it doesn't hurt, it doesn't work".  Our wildlife are a very valuable natural resource and we need to treat them that way.  Hit a person in the pocketbook and they'll think twice before poaching.  Way to go California!!  I just wish my home state of Washington would follow in their footsteps.

Chuck-n-Alaska's picture

I don't think designating an

I don't think designating an animal a trophy for the purpose of poaching is a good thing. It takes away the real value of the animal, food. In Alaska if you don't take the edible meat out you will get cited for wanton waste. Wanton waste is the worst offense you can get hit with up here Alaska judges generally hit a convicted offender with the max penalty.

hunter25's picture

No surprise with this one as

No surprise with this one as more and more states are raising the bar for poaching trophy class animals. I'm not sure what the fine structure was before but the punishment needs to be a deterent for for sure. I doubt the baiting fine will be that large but will increase proportionately. Ted Nugent probably brought more attention to this one than anyone. In a strapped economy they probably see this as a way to raise more money also.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

I like it.  As he said in the

I like it.  As he said in the article, penalties for poaching have remained relatively unchanged over the last 20 years.

This will bring the fines more in line with the economy of today.

the only part I don't like is the "hunting over bait" part.  Granted, I don't condone it, but there is alot of gray area in that rule out here in California.

Example, in dove season, you can only hunt near crops of wheat, rye, whatever, if it has been something like 2 weeks since the field was worked.  Or, same thing if you had grain or corn piled up somewhere, it has to be all eaten up before you hunt there.

If not, it's considered baiting.  And, given the fact that almost all the dove hunting out here takes place around agricultural fields, that could be tough.  Especially if a warden has a bad day.

However, if you use salt licks, obvious piles of corn/carrots/other bait, then throw the book at them. 

Then again, this may only apply to big game, and not all game.  Maybe baiting deer or elk, and baiting doves will be looked at differently.  Whatever the case, I like the bill.

jaybe's picture

That's a big fine

That's a pretty big fine. It just might be enough to make people figure out that crime doesn't pay. One of the things we see a lot of here in my state is that the fines are not nearly steep enough to make people stop poaching. The other thing is that many of them keep on repeating the same offenses year after year. Even when their hunting privileges are revoked for 3 years, they keep on hunting anyway. The real puzzler for me is that they sometimes even keep buying licenses after their privileges are revoked! Now - I thought that a computer should be able to be programmed to deny a license to someone if his privileges are revoked. Apparently that's not the way it works, because it's only after they are caught and the computer is checked that it's discovered that they weren't supposed to buy a license in the first place.

 Here's hoping that California's big fine for poachers will be enforced - otherwise it's just another law on the books with no teeth.



Put the $ Back

The increase of minimum fines for poaching can only be considered a good thing, regardless of trophy status of the animal or wanton waste of the carcass.  Alaska being more closely tied with subsistance hunting places a higher value (rightly so) on waste of meat than the trophy status of an animal but they are kind of unique.

Lets just hope that the money is put back into the wildlife management system rather than being lost into the state's general fund.  Wildlife management typically takes backseat to other issues in the best of times & with today's economic conditions, especially in California if these fines go into the general fund system, it'll most likely never see any type of wildlife management action or use.  More likely it'll help fund hospitalization or education entitlement programs for illegal aliens.