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A New Program Researching the Processes for Calculating Current Poaching Fines and Providing Assistance to Increase Poaching Penalties in the Future

Poaching is a crime. Poachers are not hunters, nor conservationists. They are thieves.

Poach and Pay is a research project launched by the Boone and Crockett Club with the support of its partner, Leupold & Stevens to determine what is and is not working in the war against poaching in the United States. There are many aspects to successfully fighting crime. Poach and Pay is focused on one aspect, the financial deterrents to poaching and ensuring that the fines being assessed for this illegal killing are in line with the value our society places on its wildlife.

  • Does the fine fit the crime?
  • Have these restitutions kept pace and reflect the value people place on wildlife resources?
  • Poaching is poaching, but should there be higher fines for the illegal killing of certain wildlife being targeted by poachers?

Poach and Pay seeks to answer these questions and more, and ultimately help to form a framework to compliment the efforts of our law enforcement agencies by sending a clear message that poaching doesn’t pay.

Program Objective

The research phase of Poach and Pay will consist of a study of the fines or restitutions each state wildlife agency has for poaching, how these fines are determined, and whether they are different for different types of poaching relative to what is being illegally killed. It will also look to determine if fines have increased over time and if there is any evidence that these fines are a significant enough deterrent. The research will look to establish a foundation of what is working and why, and if there are ways to strengthen our attempts to stop poaching.

Boone and Crockett Score
The poaching of any animal is a crime. Increasingly, law enforcement personnel are dealing with individuals illegally targeting and taking trophy animals. Whether this is thrill killing or for some commercial enterprise, mature trophy animals are of value to people, and poachers. Some states have responded by instituting a restitution scale using B&C score, or other method to determine higher fines. Another objective of Poach and Pay is to find out which states are using different ways to assess higher fines to deter poaching, how these methods are working, and how this information can be shared with other states.

Historical Context
The Boone and Crockett Club has a long history with sustainable use conservation dating back to the Club’s founders, Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell, that began with the protection of Yellowstone National Park. The park’s wildlife was supposed to be protected, but was being plundered by poachers. Grinnell, who was editor of Forest & Steam magazine, sensationalized an incident that involved the poaching of six of the park’s remaining bison in 1893. Public outrage over the illegal killing led to the Congress passing of the Yellowstone National Park Game Protection Act of 1894, which was drafted and endorsed by the Club and also spurred the Club’s development of the nation’s first game laws.

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