2009-07-04 / Outdoors

Poaching penalty hike stalls in House

Members of the Pa. General Assembly have applied the brakes on a trend to increase fines for poaching and related wildlife violations.

House Bill 97, which was strongly supported by the Game Commission, was sent back to the Game and Fisheries Committee by a 194-1 vote of the full House. Many members said the proposed fines were too high.

Supporters of tougher penalties scored a victory earlier this year when "replacement costs" were added to fines assessed on those convicted of illegally killing certain wildlife in Pennsylvania.

Judges can now assess a replacement cost of $5,000 for any endangered or threatened species; $1,500 for an elk or bear; $800 for a deer; $500 for a bobcat or river otter; $300 for a wild turkey or beaver; and $200 for any other wildlife.

Additionally, if the big game animal is determined to be a "trophy class animal," judges will be able to require a replacement cost of $5,000 for an elk, deer or bear.

These replacement costs are on top of those fines and penalties already specified in the Game and Wildlife Code, which may only be changed by the state legislature.

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