Pennsylvania Bill Increases Penalties for Poaching

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Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe has offered his praise to Governor Edward G. Rendell, House Game and Fisheries Committee Chairman Edward G. Staback (D-Lackawanna) and the General Assembly for enactment of a bill that will protect wildlife by cracking down on poaching. House Bill 1859, sponsored by Rep. Staback to increase penalties and fines for poaching committed against Pennsylvania wildlife, was signed into law July 12th by Gov. Rendell.

"Increasing penalties for serious violations is one of the operational objectives within the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Strategic Plan, and we welcome enactment of House Bill 1859," Roe said. "This marks 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.

"There is widespread public support for increasing in fines and penalties 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. "Most commonly, the causes are simply greed, obsessive behavior in collecting antlers; in some cases poachers take great pride in their infamous status in local communities. A disturbing and increasingly common cause is killing simply for thrill with no intention of making use of any part of the animal."

House Bill 1859 passed the House by a vote of 196 to 3 on July 21, and was unanimously approved by the Senate on July 3. After a concurrence vote of 189 to 6 in the House, on July 3, it was sent to Gov. Edward G. Rendell. The bill will become law in 60 days.