A Kent County, Mich., man has pled guilty in a deer-poaching case that occurred in September in Montcalm County and is the first case of a violation meeting the new enhanced sentencing guidelines for poaching that became state law earlier this year.
On September 21, Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers responded to a complaint phoned in to the Report All Poaching (RAP) Line involving an adult suspect who allegedly killed two trophy whitetail in Montcalm County during the 2014 Youth Hunt while acting as a mentor. Jacob Powers, 25, of Lowell, Mich., was arraigned October 3 on the charge of taking two deer during the closed season before a magistrate of the 64B District Court at Stanton in Montcalm County.
Officers seized two large antlered heads, meat and a shotgun used to take the animals while at the Powers’ residence. It was determined Powers had taken both deer himself that morning in Bushnell Township of Montcalm County, while accompanying an 8-year-old youth on his first hunt. Powers illegally tagged one deer with the Mentored Youth Tag issued to the young hunter and procured a second license tag from a 6-year-old female family member prior to transporting the animals. Officers established Powers had captured trail camera images of the deer prior to the hunt and knew trophy deer were present in the hunt area.
At arraignment, Powers entered a plea of guilty to the charge and was sentenced. He was assessed $335 in fines and costs, $12,000 in restitution for payment to the state’s Fish and Game Protection Fund, and five days mandatory minimum jail time to be served as community service. In addition, Powers now faces up to five years of hunting license revocations in Michigan and 41 other states that participate in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
A new law that became effective in Michigan in February assesses convicted game violators increased fines for poaching big whitetail bucks, based on the number of points on trophy-sized racks.
The law made several changes to the fines and restitution payments for poaching deer, including a progressive penalty system. These include:
- For any deer with or without antlers, the base restitution will be $1,000;
- For any antlered deer, there will be an additional restitution of $1,000 plus;
- For antlered deer with 8- to 10 points, an additional $500 will be assessed for each point;
- For antlered deer with 11 or more points, an additional $750 will be assessed for each point.
A “point” is defined in the new law as being at least 1-inch long as measured from its tip to the nearest edge of the antler beam. Under the measure, illegally killing a 10-point buck in Michigan will now result in $7,000 restitution, plus fines and court costs.
“Ethical hunters, wildlife viewers and our officers are hopeful that increased penalties will cause potential violators to rethink the temptation of poaching a trophy deer while providing additional protection for this valuable wildlife resource,” said DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler.
What do you think of Michigan’s enhanced new penalties for poaching trophy deer? Do you think it goes far enough? Please comment below.