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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Minn. Governor Seeks Felony Poaching Law

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CN) - Calling it a "shameful criminal act," Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton wants poaching of game and fish to be prosecutable as a felony.

It's the second year in a row Dayton has sought harsher penalties for poaching.

The Legislature in May last year rejected his proposal for a felony-level penalty for poaching animals with a restitution value of $2,000 or more, and revocation of game and fish licenses for up to 10 years.

Dayton's new proposal is identical. He announced it Friday at the Department of Natural Resource's Annual Roundtable.

Poachers in Minnesota today can be prosecuted for a gross misdemeanor and have their fish and game licenses revoked for up to five years.

Over-limit thresholds are based on wildlife restitution values set by law: for example, four or more deer, two or more trophy deer, 67 or more walleye or Northern pike.

"The recently reported instances of wanton and wasteful poaching in Minnesota should offend the sensibilities of all ethical and law-abiding hunters and anglers," Dayton said in a statement.

"They are shameful criminal acts, and they should be treated as serious offenses by Minnesota laws. I ask our state's sportsmen and sportswomen to join me in urging the legislature to increase the penalties for these disgusting abuses."

"Gross over-limit violations are not accidental," DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said in a statement. "The reforms being championed by Gov. Dayton reflect the values of responsible Minnesota hunters and anglers. This proposal would enact strong and appropriate penalties for those who intentionally disregard the ethical and legal boundaries of hunting and fishing in Minnesota."

Dayton spoke after a series of highly publicized poaching cases.

In May 2015, a game warden claimed three people fishing a lake in Wright County were 449 crappies over their limit.

In January 2014, the DNR seized 33 sets of antlers in Dawson, including four sets of elk antlers and a fully intact piebald deer, which was untagged and had been killed with a high-powered rifle.

And in 2013, two rare bull elk were killed near Grygla: approximately 10 percent of the Grygla elk herd.

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