Recently it was reported here (in Oregon) that a few "High Profile" individuals were cited for Poaching. Although these particular infractions (30 total for one of the individuals) had to due with Hunting, it brings to the forefront the ongoing problem of Poaching in general.
Here's some stats;
In Pierre, South Dakota a man was found with a cooler containing 110 Walleye.
On the Kamchatka Peninsula, Illegal Salmon poaching is run by organized crime gangs (and you thought the only competition came from the Bears)
In Florida, poachers using gill nets are reeking havoc on the states Pompano stocks.
Brewster Mass. officals had to crack down on Herring poachers who went wild on the Stony Brook run.
In Oklahoma, 3 men had illegal nets set in a state reservoir to catch Striped Bass that they were selling commericaly for $1.- per pound.
There are 2 types of Poachers according to officals that I spoke with;
These are the type we as flyfisherman encounter most often. "Hit and Run" as was described to me. They are most often single or pairs of individuals who are in a particular spot for the day. Case in point, I was fishing a section of a well known "fly fishing only, catch and release" river here in the N.W. and came across 2 men using bait and killing fish. When I questioned wheither this was part of the F.F.O. area, things got a little tense, with the younger of the 2 going into how he grew up here and how his dad used to fish here long before catch and release. I decided to de-escalate the situation by moving on. Most of these individuals are trying to get away with something that they know is illegal and flat WRONG, or they are down and out and trying to subsidise diet.
These, like the gangs on the Kamchatka Penn. can be far more devastating to niche fishery eco-systems, pulling huge amounts of animals out of areas in short time spans. Recently 8 men were fined a total of $55,000.- for the poaching and illegal sale of Yellow Perch. In another instance, 14 men were fined a total of $16,000+ , lost a total of 35 years of fishing privlages, and spent 72 days in jail after pleading guilty to poaching and commerical sale of Walleye and White Bass. The info in this case was gathered from a T.I.P. Program (Turn In a Poacher)
Regardless, all Poaching is a crime, and should be dealt with a accordingly! Officals I spoke with said if you observe a potential poaching incident you should;
NOT approach the individuals on your own!
Try to get description of the incident, individuals, auto info, etc.
Call your local D.F.W. and ask to speak to an officer, or if your state has a T.I.P. line, use that.
I am not saying that these actions always work, but in most cases it's whats on the books now, and so that's what we have to work with. You can petition your particular State angency to stiffen existing laws or actions against Poaching. It is a huge problem, everyday, worldwide!
Fishing is a PRIVLAGE, not a RIGHT! Poaching for those of us who fish Legaly causes Lost Fishing Opportunitys and Higher fees!
Let's help keep Angling on the up and up!
Ever wonder why poachers can make $$ from it ?? There are several "markets" out there.
First there the old school, ... those poor souls, as you mentionned, who believe that it is their RIGHT to fish/hunt and d**m the regs. (as in fly only or no kill sections.)
Second there are the over limit gang who think that they'll darn well fill up the freezer as they only fish once or twice a year (as in fly in tourists in Canada who just can't beleive they can only keep 6 walleye).
These first 2 "scenarios" are pretty tough to deal with in the long run as they are "cultural" things. Education (and stiff fines) are the only long term sollutions (IMHO)
Next, thirdly, ... there are the "casual" commercial poachers. These guys (and gals) will sell, barter or trade game meat taken on non-comercial permits. Ever had someone at the office ask if you wanted to buy some nice fresh walley fillets ?? I have, and as the Chief Forester for the division, I promptly tell the person that if he'd like to repeat that, he'll LOSE HIS JOB !! (and I have done that).
Lastly, and not the least problematic, are the commercial groups. Wanna buy 1000 lbs of caribou meat, real cheap, ... can't be legal. This can only be adressed at the consumer level. I won't use restaurants that can't produce tags for "wild" game meat. As in : Its your choice well, .. not a poaching example, but consumer choices to make anyway ...
Further, my crews romp around through over 40,000 sqr km of public forests up here and you better believe they have their marching orders. They all have digital cameras and know how to record and report suspicious activity.
Long winded sorry, ... but poaching is a problem all over the world. The only way we can get a handle on it is through education, observation and reporting, as well as through OUR OWN actions and consumer choices.
Your closing remarks are excellent. ...
p.s. There's a list of numers @
Reporting poaching list @FAOL
and the number for your jurisdiction is usually printed on the fishing licence.
It is so very important to be careful when dealing with these people. Even the small time poachers have this feeling they have every right to do what they want and no one is going to stop them.
Back in the early 80's my neighbor turned out to be the most famous American big time poacher. His name was Ellison and his daddy was a state congeressman in Montana. Daddy had a perfect 100% anti environment record in the state house and his son must have certainly been encouraged by that. He was a wilderness terrorist who shot hundreds of Bull elk in velvet, shot bears for the gall bladder and had at least 4 or 5 hoods working for him. He also ran big game hunts out of season and that is how he finally got caught. He ended up taking out under cover FBI agents on a couple of hunts. It took over 100 FBI and Park sevice rangers to make the arrest and they expected a fight to the death but luck would have it Ellison got so drunk with the under cover agent that he passed out on the night of the bust and they just hand cuffed him to his bed in an old mountain cabin till the troops arrived. I think he got 30 years without bail and is still in jail. The story made headlines throughout N. America.
My personal run in with him still to this day sends shivers down my spine. Someone had been shooting deer on our ranch by the county road and just leaving them there in the hay fields. No one could figure out why someone would do this, no one, game wardens or the sherif, all were at a loss. One evening i was coming home from town and there was a pick up truck by the side of the road with it's hood up. I stopped to lend a hand and when I got out I noticed it was Ellison working under his hood. At this point we were suspicious of this guy but had no proof but all the neighbors knew to keep their distance. It was too late for me so I asked him if I could help. He said no and to get my ass out of there. I noticed he had a sawed off shot gun sitting on his engine and like an idiot i asked him what was up with the shot gun. He just said he didn't like snakes and to move on. I sure as hell did and when I got home called the game warden because I knew something was up. Nothing came about of the incedent till months later after he got arrested. As it turned out he was shooting deer close by the road side then acting like he was broke down in his truck. Eventually Golden Eagles would land on the carcus and he would shoot them then sell the feathors and stuff. He confessed to many poaching crimes and boasted to many other crimes including telling the story of all most blasting me away that evening for being so damn nosey.
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