QDMA Supports New York Bills To Increase Poaching Penalties

Quality Deer Management AssociationThe Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) supports New York Senate Bill 4727 and Assembly Bill A7171, which would increase the penalties for the illegal taking of deer and help reduce the number of unlawful activities with respect to white-tailed deer poaching. QDMA believes Senate Bill 4727 and Assembly Bill A7171 would benefit the state of New York, its wildlife and citizenry.

“Wildlife is held in trust by the state for all of New York’s citizens to enjoy,” said Kip Adams, QDMA’s Director of Education and Outreach. “This public ownership of wildlife is an instrumental component of the successful North American Model for Wildlife Conservation. Ethical sportsmen created and have supported the North American Model for the past century. Unfortunately, unlawful activities with respect to wildlife contrast the Model, and illegally killing wildlife is nothing less than public theft.”

Whitetails are the most popular big game animal in the U.S., and whitetail hunters are the foundation of the $87 billion hunting industry. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, approximately three of every four hunters pursue whitetails, and in New York over 800,000 hunters contribute more than $3.6 billion annually to the state’s economy.

Nationally, minimum fines are all over the board, and in QDMA’s opinion, these fines are well below the value of loss of that animal to the ethical sportsmen and women who follow the rules, as well as to all citizens who enjoy them. In fact, the national minimum average fine for poaching a whitetail is just over $350 per first offense, with a range of $0 to $1,500, and in a few cases, fines may even be less than the cost of a legally acquired license.

In New York, poaching fines currently range from $0 to $250 at a minimum with a ceiling of $2,000, with the officer picking the amount and a judge making the final determination. Senate Bill 4727 and Assembly Bill A7171 would amend the law so that the minimum mandatory fine for illegally taking a deer would be $1,000 and could reach as high as $4,000. For any person illegally taking a deer who has a previous poaching conviction, the proposed bills would make the minimum mandatory fine $2,000 and result in the offender’s loss of hunting privileges for five years.

Senate Bill 4727 and Assembly Bill A7171 would also add additional language to the law so that anyone caught illegally taking deer in the presence of a minor would be subject to fines being doubled. The bills would also add a provision that any damage caused by the poaching incident could also result in fines being doubled and/or restitution being paid to the landowner.

“Whether for viewing or hunting, white-tailed deer are captivating, and this is especially true for large-antlered bucks,” said Adams. “Part of their appeal lies in their relative scarcity. Many of these animals are taken prior to maturity by hunters, are involved in deer-vehicle collisions, or they succumb to disease or other mortality factors. Thus, the investment of time, sweat and monetary resources required to produce a mature deer is substantial. These resources are far greater than the current restitution value of a deer stolen by a poacher. The proposed restitution included in this legislation more closely resembles the fair market value of a white-tailed deer.”

QDMA encourages its New York members and all ethical deer hunters to support Senate Bill 4727 and Assembly Bill A7171. New Yorkers can find contact information to reach out to their Senators in support of the bill at www.nysenate.gov/senators.

Anyone interested in learning more about the minimum fines for deer stolen by poachers in their state can check out QDMA’s 2015 Whitetail Report, available as a free PDF, at www.qdma.com/corporate/whitetail-report.