A bill to raise the amount of restitution paid for poached trophy bucks was reported unanimously from the House Natural Resources committee on Tuesday, October 29th, but not without a major overhaul in how the restitution fines will be calculated.
Originally, Senate Bill 171 (Sen. Phil Pavlov, R – St. Clair) was designed to calculate the restitution fine paid on a poached trophy buck based on the Boone & Crockett scoring system. Basically, the higher the B&C score, the higher the fine.
While most legislators and stakeholders agreed with the overall concept, a number of concerns were raised by the DNR, Governor’s office, and committee members about the system being too complicated. In light of these concerns, a number of changes were proposed that were adopted by the committee.
Under the new format of SB 171, the general concept – bigger the buck, bigger the penalty – stays intact. The restitution for illegally shooting a deer will depend on whether or not the deer has antlers, and the value will get progressively larger based on the number of points.
The progressive penalty system breaks down as follows:
- For any deer with or without antlers, the base restitution fine will be $1,000.
- For any antlered deer, there will be an additional $1,000 fine.
- For antlered deer with 8 to 10 points, an additional $500 for each point.
- For antlered deer with 11 or more points, an additional $750 for each point.
Under this system, the fine for poached buck from a spike to 7 points would be $2,000 ($1,000 base fine + $1,000 for having antlers). The poaching of a 10 point buck would be fined at $7,000 ($1,000 base fine + additional $1,000 for having antlers + additional $5,000 (10 points x $500 per point)). A 12 point buck would be $11,000 ($1,000 base fine + $1,000 for having antlers + additional $9,000 (12 points x $750 per point).
Point is defined in the bill as being at least one-inch long as measured from its tip to the nearest edge of the antler beam.
Violators found illegally killing an antlered deer will also lose their ability to purchase a hunting license for an additional number of years. First time violators will lose the privilege for an additional two years; second and subsequent offenders will lose their hunting privileges for an additional seven years.
MUCC had passed a resolution at its 2010 annual convention supporting the concept of higher restitution values for poaching trophy bucks, and had supported the use of the Boone & Crockett system which has been used successfully in states such as Ohio and Texas. While we were disappointed to see that system removed from the bill out of fear that the scoring would prove too complicated and cumbersome as the DNR was in the process of prosecuting violators, MUCC is pleased to see fines increased significantly under the current language for those who poach trophy bucks.
While each hunter may place a different personal value on each deer they take, no one can deny the incredible excitement and value in hunting and taking a trophy buck. MUCC believes that that excitement and value should be reserved for those that are licensed hunters and acting within the boundaries of the law. Those that take these creatures illegally are stealing those opportunities from licensed Michigan hunters, and they should pay the price for doing so. MUCC believes that SB 171 is at the very least a step in the right direction.
SB 171 now moves to the House floor and sportsmen are encouraged to contact their representatives.
Logo courtesy Michigan United Conservation Clubs