Saturday, August 27, 2011

Despite Best Efforts, Poaching Still Plagues the Rockies

New West Feature

Officials believe almost as many animals are killed illegally as the legal take.

By New West Editor, 8-22-11
  Poached bull elk in southern Utah. Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
  Poached bull elk in southern Utah. Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
More than 5,000 reports have been received of poaching in Colorado since 1981, resulting in more than 900 convictions, for which about $800,000 in fines were levied, and $150,000 paid to citizens for reports of suspected poaching, a recent summary asserts.
Studies show that poachers kill almost as many animals as legitimate hunters do during legal seasons in various states, says the report, from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). It points out that poachers steal not only revenues generated by legitimate hunting, but kill threatened, endangered and non-game species.
Notifications of suspected poaching arrive through Operation Game Thief, a program pioneered by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, which has been adopted by 49 of the 50 states.

Bob Thompson, acting chief of wildlife law enforcement for CPW, retiterated an agency theme that it’s a romantic myth to regard poachers as poor people trying to feed their families. Some kill for the thrill of killing and others for trophies, he said. Some kill for money, because trophy heads, antlers and bear gall bladders can be worth thousands of dollars.

“Hunters who keep shooting into a herd of animals should realize that not every animal goes down right away when it is hit,” Thompson said. “Not only is it unethical hunting, it leads to a lot of game waste, which in itself is illegal.”
Examples of mindless poaching are not hard to find.  MORE

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