By Tom Venesky
It’s a trend that Mark Rutkowski hopes will make those tempted to break the game law think twice.
The average fine per game law violation in the northeast region increased by almost $80 over last year to $211.86, and that figure could jump even further once the final reports from the recently completed rifle deer season are in.
Rutkowski, who is the law enforcement supervisor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Northeast Region, said even though the region may not produce the number of violations as other areas, the ones that are prosecuted are serious, and costly.
The increase in fines is attributable to Act 54, which implemented higher penalties for certain game law violations, and the addition of eight new Wildlife Conservation Officers, which now means that virtually every district in the northeast region is covered.
Travis Lau, information and education superivisor for the PGC, said the agency sees a pattern at the statewide level each time a WCO graduating class enters the field — the number of fines and the money generated from fines always goes up.
That’s what happened in the northeast region this year, he said.
“Most graduating cadets are assigned to districts based on vacancies. At the time the last class graduated, the Northeast had the biggest need statewide in terms of WCO staffing shortages,” Lau said. “Because of that need, the Northeast got more graduating cadets than any other region.”
While the money generated through fines statewide is significant — during the 2012-13 license year, the figure was more than $1.4 million — Rutkowski said financial gain isn’t what motivates the agency to cite those breaking laws regulating hunting and trapping.
“Our WCOs don’t have quotas,” Rutkowski said. “Our whole enforcement objective is based on safety for the hunting and non-hunting public, protection of the resource and protection of property.” More....