By Lacee Shepard
A bear-poaching incident in Manistee County has shed light on a continuing poaching problem throughout Michigan.
"A poacher is nothing more than a criminal. If someone goes into a department store and steals a blender, that would be the same thing as someone who goes into the wild and steals a deer," said Dean Molnar assistant chief of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources law enforcement division.
"They're a criminal. They're not ethical, licensed hunters. They're taking away from the public."
Hunting is an ethical sport that's used to manage resources, said Molnar, as well as a recreational sport and a critical management tool for wildlife biologists to maintain healthy animal populations.
Molnar said reported problems tend to stay at a consistent level most of the time, as in the spring with illegal fishing or a big spike in the fall for many game animals.
"A lot of people are trophy poachers-they want the big trophies or antlers," said Molnar.
During the fall hunting season, when there are more than 600,000 hunters in the woods, there is more opportunity for illegal takings, he said.
For example, he cited the recent illegal shooting of a black bear in Manistee County's Cleon Township.
The case attracted a lot of public and press attention because it is a big game species and such animals as black bear are more protected, said Lt. David Shaw, a DNR district law supervisor based in Cadillac.
The fact that the bear was a sow that had been photographed with three cubs raises a little more concern about the shooting, he said.
As winter comes, cubs typically follow the mother into a good, safe denning site, Shaw said, and now her cubs will be without her to guide them. More....