Pennsylvania Anti-Poaching Bill Passes House

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Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe praised the House of Representatives, including House Game and Fisheries Committee Chairman Edward G. Staback (D-Lackawanna), for the near unanimous approval of House Bill 1859, which would increase penalties and fines for poaching. The bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Staback, and is similar to House Bill 97, passed the House on July 21 by a vote of 196-3.

"Increasing penalties for serious violations is one of the operational objectives within the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Strategic Plan, and we welcome the House's approval of this measure," Roe said. "This bill recognizes poaching for the crime that it is; the stealing of natural resources from all Pennsylvanians.

"There is widespread public support for this legislation as indicated by surveys that showed 96 percent of Pennsylvania's citizens feel that wildlife protection is a vitally important function."

Roe said that the causes of poaching vary, but the myth that most poachers are committing their offenses to provide food for their families is, in reality, almost never the case.

"Most often, poaching today is committed by criminals driving $30,000 vehicles, using expensive night-vision technology, illegal silencers and firearms," Roe said. "They poach wildlife for greed, notoriety, money and out of an obsessive behavior to collect antlers at any cost. A disturbing and increasingly common cause is killing simply for thrill with no intention of making use of any part of the animal.

"Enactment of this bill will mark the first comprehensive piece of legislation to increase Game and Wildlife Code Penalties since 1987, and we believe it will significantly enhance wildlife protection in the Commonwealth."

Roe noted that the bill now goes to the Senate for consideration before being sent to Gov. Edward G. Rendell for his action.