By Seth Stapleton
HURON COUNTY — State Sens. Phil Pavlov and Dale Zorn have introduced measures to increase restitution and toughen penalties for individuals convicted of illegal killing, possessing, purchasing or selling of certain protected animals in Michigan.
Senate Bills 244, 245 and 246 come following the successful Pavlov-sponsored legislation that toughened penalties for illegally killing a protected animal or trophy buck in the state.
“With these bills, we’re building on the success of the deer poaching bills,” said Pavlov, a Republican who represents Huron County. “What was interesting, is the sportsman’s groups around the state were calling for additional protection as well for these other species. So it’s being driven by the hunters and the people that truly appreciate Michigan’s wildlife.”
Under SB 245 and 246, sponsored by Zorn, an individual convicted of illegally killing, possessing, purchasing or selling moose or elk would lose their license for 15 calendar years for a first offense and for lifetime for a second offense. If the animal were a bear or antlered white-tailed deer, the individual would lose their license for five calendar years for a first offense and for 10 years for a second offense.
SB 244, sponsored by Pavlov, would increase existing fines for these crimes. The new fines would be as follows:
• Elk: $5,000 per animal (with additional fines for antlered elk).
• Moose: $5,000 per animal (with additional fines for antlered moose).
• Bear: $3,500 per animal.
• Eagle: $1,500 per animal.
• Bearded turkey: $1,000 per animal.
• Waterfowl: $500 per animal.
Currently, the bills are in the Senate Committee on Outdoor Recreation and Tourism for consideration, but Pavlov said he expects to hear on them shortly after the Senate gets back into session on Tuesday.
“It’s a big issue, because we have an opportunity to use Michigan’s wild resources as an economic attraction tool,” Pavlov said. “We’ve got the greatest game in the country — we should be able to attract hunters from out of state to come and enjoy Michigan and build on that Pure Michigan brand. By protecting it, it means more is available for people that lawfully want to participate in traditional hunting.”
Matt Evans of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs applauded Zorn’s and Pavlov’s work on the legislation.
“The illegal taking of game and fish is something that should never be tolerated, and Michigan United Conservation Clubs has always strongly supported this notion,” Evans said. “We applaud the efforts of Sens. Pavlov and Zorn to curb poaching in Michigan, and we look forward to working with them on their bills.”