Senate passes Zorn, Pavlov anti-poaching bills

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate passed measures on Wednesday to increase restitution and toughen penalties for individuals convicted of the illegal killing, possessing, purchasing or selling of certain animals in Michigan.

Sen. Dale Zorn is the sponsor of two of the bills in the package, Senate Bills 245 and 246.

“With the Senate passage of this legislation, we are sending a strong message that Michigan will not tolerate poaching,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Michigan residents are committed to protecting our natural resources, which includes our diverse types of wild game. The illegal taking of game is not a harmless crime. It’s a threat to animal populations, our ecosystem and our economy.”

Under SBs 245 and 246, an individual convicted of illegally killing, possessing, purchasing or selling moose or elk would lose their license for 15 calendar years for a first offense and for lifetime for a second offense. If the animal were a bear or antlered white-tailed deer, the individual would lose their license for five calendar years for a first offense and for ten years for a second offense.

Senate Bill 244, sponsored by Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, would increase existing fines for these crimes. The new fines would be as follows:
•    Elk: $5,000 per animal (with additional fines for antlered elk);
•    Moose: $5,000 per animal  (with additional fines for antlered moose);
•    Bear: $3,500 per animal;
•    Eagle: $1,500 per animal;
•    Bearded turkey: $1,000 per animal; and
•    Waterfowl: $500 per animal.

“Michigan has seen a number of appalling incidents of poaching over the past few years,” said Pavlov, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. “Criminals have used rifles, golf clubs, baseball bats, and other means to illegally take wild animals, sometimes selling their parts overseas. These bills will help protect our wild resources and preserve the integrity of Michigan’s hunting heritage.”

SBs 244, 245 and 246 now head to the Michigan House for further consideration.