Zorn, Pavlov introduce anti-poaching bills

LANSING, Mich.— State Sens. Dale Zorn and Phil Pavlov introduced measures on Thursday to increase restitution and toughen penalties for individuals convicted of the illegal killing, possessing, purchasing or selling of certain protected animals in Michigan.

“These bills will send a strong message to poachers that Michigan will not tolerate illegal taking of game,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Protecting our natural resources, namely the game of this state, is held in high regard.”

Under Senate Bills 245 and 246, sponsored by Zorn, 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.

SB 244, sponsored by Pavlov, 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.

“There have been several incidents of poaching in Michigan in recent years,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. “Migratory birds have been shot, clubbed with baseball bats and golf clubs, and run over; bears are being illegally harvested and their parts sold abroad; and elk, moose and other animals are also being targeted.

“This is despicable, and it is harmful not only for the animals but for Michigan sports enthusiasts as well. We must protect and preserve our wild resources, and these bills will do that.”

Matt Evans of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs applauded Zorn’s and Pavlov’s work on the legislation.

“The illegal taking of game and fish is something that should never be tolerated, and Michigan United Conservation Clubs has always strongly supported this notion,” Evans said. “We applaud the efforts of Senators Pavlov and Zorn to curb poaching in Michigan, and we look forward to working with them on their bills.”

SBs 244, 245 and 246 now head to the Senate Committee on Outdoor Recreation and Tourism for further consideration.