Georgia DNR Changes "Poacher Policy"

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Hunting deer at night, hunting alligators or bears in a manner violating state laws and computer assisted remote hunting – all of these activities are illegal and are offensive to honest hunters and the general public. Another word for the criminals who commit these conspicuously bad and offensive violations is poachers. Thanks to a recently signed policy by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division, violators of such crimes are likely to lose their state hunting and/or fishing privileges and may be subject to similar punishment in most of the country.

According to Capt. Mike England, "This revocation policy will better protect wildlife, support the honest sportsman, and provide a necessary punishment for poachers that commit unlawful acts."

In the past, conservation rangers with the Division would issue a citation for the above-mentioned offenses as well as any number of other violations. The local court system then adjudicates the violation and sets and collects fines and decides if a suspension should be added to the sentence. The Division had no policy on how to handle a poacher apart from allowing them to process through the local court system. Now, thanks to this new policy – recently signed by Department Commissioner Noel Holcomb – the Division has the ability to handle egregious or habitual offenders to Georgia Game and Fish Laws. Additionally, their ability to obtain a license may be suspended for up to two years and they also may lose hunting and fishing privileges in all 31-member states of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.

How will monitoring occur? Poachers found guilty of violations, which carry a mandated suspension in law, yet who do not receive a suspension from the local court will automatically be reviewed by the Division. Recommendations from the Division will be made to the Department Commissioner who may revoke, suspend, deny or refuse to renew appropriate licenses or permits for up to two years as stated in O.C.G.A 27-2-25.

Additionally, the Division will monitor all issued citations for habitual violators. A habitual violator is an individual that has committed three (3) incidents (separated by date/time). Three incidents within a three-year period automatically will trigger a review. Recommendations from the Division will be made to the Department Commissioner who may revoke, suspend, deny or refuse to renew appropriate licenses or permits for up to two years as stated in O.C.G.A 27-2-25.

Besides losing hunting/fishing privileges in Georgia, suspended violators also will be entered into the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact database as stated in O.C.G.A. 27-2-40. This database allows member states to share information about game and fish violators and gives member states the ability to deny a license to a non-resident who has had his/her privileges suspended in their home state. The mobility of many wildlife law violators necessitates this interstate cooperation and communication and provides an established mechanism to better protect and manage wildlife resources.

For more information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com or call 770-918-6414.