By Chris Engle
A new law to take effect in February will drastically increase the penalties for poaching trophy deer.
Signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in November, the act adds an additional $1,000 restitution fee for illegally killing an antlered deer.
Restitution is even higher if the buck has at least 8 points — $500 per point — and $750 per point if it has at least 11 points.
The base restitution for a poached deer is $1,000.
Such poachers will have their hunting privileges revoked for five years for the first offense and 10 years for a second offense. Base penalties for poaching carry a three-year revocation of hunting privileges.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair, an avid hunter who said poaching hurts the efforts of the Department of Natural Resources, hunting groups and antler point restrictions which work to improve the overall deer herd.
“People put a lot of time and effort into whitetail season,” Pavlov said Monday. “We want to make sure that, when the season opens, the trophies are still walking around.”
Pavlov, who is the vice chairman of the Senate’s Great Lakes Environmental Committee, said he looked at other states that have adopted similar laws while shaping his legislation. Those include Pennsylvania, Ohio and Western states.
He said an improved deer herd bolsters Michigan’s “economic driver” of hunting and fishing tourism.
“If we’re going to be a better destination for trophy hunting we need to prevent poaching,” he said.
Pavlov initially considered basing fines on the Boone & Crockett score of a poached trophy but settled on the simpler point system which conservation officers can use to quickly rate an offense in the field. Antler tines longer than an inch are counted as points.
Retired conservation officer John Borkovitch, who was based out of Port Huron, testified in the Senate in support of the legislation, Pavlov said. More....