Governor Wants to Crack Down on Illegal Poaching in MN

Dayton Wants to Crack Down on Poachers in MN

As a life-long hunter and angler, Governor Mark Dayton has proposed significant reforms to Minnesota’s poaching laws this session.

Governor Dayton is pushing hard to enact more stringent penalties for those who intentionally violate the state’s hunting and fishing laws.

The Governor’s push for tougher poaching penalties comes in the wake of numerous high-profile instances of illegal poaching activity in Minnesota.

By enacting more severe consequences for these crimes, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hope to deter illegal poaching, and ensure these criminal acts are properly and thoroughly punished.

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

Governor Dayton’s poaching reform proposal would enact stiffer criminal penalties and longer license revocations for anyone who unlawfully take and possess significant numbers of wild animals.

The Governor’s proposal would establish a new felony-level penalty for poaching, and revoke game and fish licenses and privileges for a period of up to ten years.

Current law only includes up to a gross misdemeanor penalty for poaching and license revocations of up to only five years.

“Gross over-limit violations are not accidental,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “The reforms being championed by Governor Dayton this year 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.”

Minnesota’s game and fish laws are intended to balance and maintain healthy populations of wild animals, recreational hunting and fishing opportunities, and sustainable commercial uses – now and for future generations.

Under the Governor’s proposal, the felony penalty for poaching would apply to individuals who unlawfully take animals above a restitution value of $2,000.

Gross over-limit penalty thresholds are based on the wildlife restitution values set in law, which include:

Four or more deer
Two or more trophy deer
Five or more bears or turkeys
Forty or more ducks, geese, pheasant, grouse, or salmon
Sixty-seven or more walleye or Northern pike

Recent Instances of Criminal Poaching in Minnesota:
Several egregious instances of illegal poaching have surfaced in the last several months, highlighting the need to enact stricter penalties to deter this criminal activity and safeguard wild game in Minnesota.

Two Rare Bull Elk in Northwestern Minnesota – Just this week, two bull elk were illegally shot and killed near Grygla.

The elk were killed by poachers an area that holds Minnesota’s smallest elk herd – an area has been closed to hunting since 2012.

According to the DNR, these bulls represented about 10 percent of the known Grygla elk herd.

The Grygla herd has declined in recent years, and is currently estimated at 18 elk – down from 20 counted last year, and 28 counted in 2013.

Anyone with information about the illegal shooting of the two bulls, or the suspicious death of a bull elk in the Grygla area in fall of 2013, is urged to call the 24-hour, toll-free Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline.

28 Sets of Antlers Seized in Deer Poaching Case – In January of this year, the DNR seized 28 sets of antlers in a deer poaching investigation in Dawson, Minnesota.

The antlers included 11 shoulder mounts, most of which were trophy class animals.

Also seized were four sets of elk antlers and a set of mule deer antlers.

In a freezer, officers also discovered a fully intact piebald deer, which was untagged and had been killed with a high-powered rifle.

DNR officers also seized a freshly-killed eight-point whitetail buck, which investigators determined had been killed with a high-powered rifle.

Suspects in the poaching case were charged with gross misdemeanors for transporting illegally taken big game, use of an artificial light to take deer, hunting during prohibited times, trespassing, and failure to register deer.

Complaints from the public through the Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline helped DNR officers uncover the scheme and press charges.

Turn In Poachers:

Minnesota’s “Turn In Poachers” (TIP) program was formed in 1981 by concerned citizens who wanted to stop the illegal harvest of game and fish in Minnesota.

TIP operates a 24-hour, toll-free hotline (800-652-9093) that Minnesotans can call to lodge complaints against suspected poachers. Cell phone users can also dial #TIP to file a complaint.

The information and the person reporting poaching activity can be kept confidential.

Those reporting violations are asked to obtain as much information as possible, and to report all violations as soon as possible.

If an arrest is initiated, the person reporting the violation may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000, depending upon the seriousness of the crime. 

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