Boone and Crockett Club applauds the Maryland Hunting Coalition for the passage of The Poaching Restitution Act of 2016 in Maryland. The Act has been sent to Governor Larry Hogan for signature in to law. The Maryland Hunting Coalition was instrumental in the creation and passage of the Act, which will make Maryland one of the most punitive states in America for poaching deer.
In September of 2015, the Maryland Hunting Coalition hosted the First Annual Hunter's Summit. The most important subject discussed was widespread deer poaching and the lack of sufficient enforcement of established hunting laws. The genesis of The Poaching Restitution Act of 2016 was born from this summit and, with the help of dedicated supporters Maryland State Senator Johnny Ray Salling and Maryland Delegate Anthony O'Donnell, passed by both the state Senate and House of Delegates.
"The Boone and Crockett Club commends the State of Maryland on their commitment to deter poaching of deer with the implementation of some of the stiffest penalties in the nation," said Club President Morrie Stevens. "Poachers are not hunters. They are thieves that pose a significant threat to our natural resources and circumvent the hard work of wildlife managers, landowners, and hunters who abide by the law to take their game. This new, stricter policy echoes the purpose of B&C's 'Poach and Pay' research program."
The Act not only increases penalties for illegal killing of deer but also creates greater penalties for the poaching of trophy deer, which will be determined by the widely accepted Boone and Crockett Club's standard for measuring and evaluating trophy quality. With support from optics-maker, Leupold & Stevens, the Club's Poach and Pay research initiative is aimed at gathering information from all states relative to their poaching restitution policies on what is and is not working as deterrents, and what can be improved upon.
"The Act was fiercely opposed by the Judicial Branch," said Bill Miles with the Maryland Hunting Coalition. "They argued court judges should have total discretion when sentencing for a criminal offense. But, it was because the courts were soft on poachers, the Act was needed in the first place."
With this new Act in Maryland a person convicted of poaching an antlered white-tailed with a Boone and Crockett Club score of 150 gross inches or less they must pay restitution of between $2,000 and $5,000, in an amount deemed reasonable by the court, and perform 80 hours of community service. For a deer scoring over 150 gross inches, the person must pay restitution of between $5,000 and $10,000, and perform 80 hours of community service. If a person is convicted of poaching an antlerless white-tailed deer, the person must pay restitution of between $300 and $500, and perform 40 hours of community service.