On December 18, 2019, the Hunter Town Court adjudicated a deer poaching case initiated by Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) Mike Arp.
A big four and one half year-old buck with impressive 153-inch antlers was illegally shot by a subject in early November during the early archery/crossbow season.
He had already killed and tagged a seven-point buck earlier that season and lacking a valid tag for the big buck, sought out his uncle’s tag, then illegally tagged the big bruiser with it. The defendant plead guilty to taking the buck and paid $750.00 in fines.
The shooter did not get to keep the ill-gotten trophy since he did not possess a valid privilege or tag at the time it was taken. It’s been reported that the subject legally harvested a third buck during the gun season.
Some people consider deer and other poaching to be a victimless crime. That could not be further from the truth. Poaching is a crime, and you are its victim. There’s no question in my mind that “hogging” game has a negative impact not just on hunting, but as an affront to fairness in general within and outside the hunting community.
Poaching deer is a type of property crime. Poachers steal deer from legitimate hunters, and the general public.
Law abiding hunters and members of the non-hunting public alike, benefit from the harvest limits and other rules set by wildlife managers and enforced by ECOs. Enjoying deer can involve the legal harvest of a nice buck or doe, or simply by non-hunters who like to watch deer in their front yard.
It’s been shown that the majority of the non-hunting public are agnostic about hunting. That is to say, they feel if hunters obey the rules and limits, and utilize the game taken, they support hunting. That support is drastically reduced when poaching or even hunting for trophies enters the formula.
Some hunters may feel that illegally using someone else’s deer tag is one of those minor, petty offenses not only not worth reporting, but a practice that has no impact on deer populations.
Sound wildlife management practices set limits for the harvest of deer and other game to protect species for all to enjoy. It simultaneously attempts to achieve the proper population balance for that game in a given habitat.
Most hunters abide by the rules and do not cheat when it comes to over harvesting. That’s why it’s important that those who flagrantly break the rules by killing over their limit be brought to justice as was the case with the big buck illegally taken in the Town of Hunter.
That investigation, and for that matter, most other poaching arrests could not be made without the aid of responsible citizens who report such wildlife crimes. In many ways, ECOs, are only as effective as the public they serve allows them to be. ECOs rely on cooperation from our citizens as partners with “skin in the game” in combatting wildlife crime.
Let’s consider the big picture. The amount of poaching cases prosecuted compared to the extent of illegal hunting taking place is minimal. Even effective, aggressive wildlife enforcement only just scratches the surface of the world of illegal hunting.
For example, on November 18, 2019, a Gilboa man was charged with shooting an 8-point buck from the road in the Town of Prattsville.
He plead guilty and paid $752.50 In the Town of Prattsville Court. There are many similar cases as ECOs across the state make scores of such arrests in the hope of having some deterrent effect. It’s safe to say that many of these arrests would not have been possible without some help from concerned citizens.
So, the next time you may become aware of a serious poaching problem; consider doing your part by getting that information to your local ECO. For those who recoil and say they don’t want to be a “rat” or “snitch,” realize what you’re saying.
That language derived from, and thrives in the criminal culture, and not within the average, law abiding community. Awareness of serious poaching presents us with a choice of which of the two cultures we value and wish to associate with.
Every week, a few lines down in this column, you’ll see a reminder to “…report poaching by calling 1-844-DEC-ECOS.” I’m confident most will make the obvious choice and do the right thing if and when the time comes.
Happy Hunting, Fishing and Trapping until next time.
Canaan Conservation Club’s 21st Annual Hardwater Fishing Derby
This event will take place on February 15 from 6 a.m.-1 p.m. at Queechy Lake, Canaan, NY. Register online starting January 15 at https://canaanconservationclub.weebly.com/ or, in-person at 6 a.m. on the day of the event at Adams Point Beach. Entry fee for adults 16 and over is $15 and $5 for kids 15 and under.
Three cash prizes for largest trout, perch, pickerel, and crappie with a gas powered auger standing in for the grand prize. Other prizes include hand augers, tip-ups and jigging poles. For more information contact Julia Horst at 518-567-4302 or by email at email@example.com
Save the Date: February 15, 2020
The Catskill Mountain F&G Club/Stony Clove F&G Club Youth Ice Fishing Derby
The date for this event is scheduled for Saturday, February 15; ice conditions permitting.
Sign-in begins at 9 a.m. with youth fishing from 10 a.m.-noon. There will be prizes for all kids attending, plus refreshments will be available. For more information call Bob Monteleone at 518-488-0240.
Remember to report poaching violations by calling 1-844-DEC-ECOS.
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