MISSOURI (KFVS) - The Missouri Department of Conservation, along with the legislature and governor, have taken actions to increase penalties for those caught poaching in the state.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed House Bill 260 into law on July 11. The new fines will go into effect on August 28.
Called the poaching bill, it significantly raises fines for those convicted of illegally taking Missouri game species and other native wildlife. It was sponsored by Representative Jered Taylor and Senator Mike Bernskoetter.
New fine amounts include $10,000-$15,000 for each elk or black bear killed illegally, $1,000-$5,000 for each whitetailed buck, $500-$1,000 for each wild turkey and $500-$1,000 for each paddlefish.
According to the MDC, the fines are considered restitution payments for poaching game animals and are ordered by a judge. The money from the fines will go to the state’s school fund. The restitution payments are in addition to other fines and penalties for violating the Wildlife Code of Missouri.
According to MDC records, 547 wild turkeys, 58 paddlefish and 4,731 deer were illegally taken, or poached, in 2017 and 2018.
MDC is also investigating the poaching of five elk over the past several years. Black bear poaching incidents are a growing concern as well.
You can click here for more information on MDC’s point system for wildlife violations.
Examples of recent MDC penalty-point increases include:
- Illegal baiting of wildlife from 4 to 8 points
- Buying, selling, having or releasing prohibited invasive species from 4 to 16 points
- Violations related to paddlefish from 4 to 12 points
- Taking over the legal limit of deer or turkeys from 8 to 12 points
- Doubling points for other violations related to illegal taking of wildlife from 4 to 8 points
- Releasing feral hogs into the wild from 0 to 16 points
Anyone with information on poaching cases is asked to call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-392-1111.