I've always thought poaching fines in some areas were just ridiculous. It's not that I don't agree with the idea of poaching fines, but the problem is that many of these fines amount to little more than a slap on the wrist (usually only a few hundred bucks). Compared to an outfitted hunt that costs at least $3,000, it's cheaper for poachers to take the risk than pay for an outfitted hunt.
After three bucks that would have made the number one spot in the Kansas record books were all taken illegally by poachers, the state has finally established a system that could significantly decrease the amount of poaching.
Starting in 2013, fines will reach the five digit range depending on the type of animal and size of it's rack. A 200-inch whitetail will cost $20,000 and a 350-inch elk will run $45,000. Even a relatively small 130-inch mule deer will cost $1,800.
These fines would be considered mandatory penalties and classified as restitution to the state. These fines would also be in addition to other fines, jail time, and confiscation of equipment. The restitution money would go to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) to support law-enforcement activities.
Kansas didn't reinvent the wheel on its new poaching system. Rather, it looked to states like Ohio and Texas.
It will be interesting to see how these fines play out and if the KDWPT strictly enforces these new fines. The KDWPT retains the right to suspend part of or the entire fine amount. If the KDWPT starts suspending fine amounts then poachers will look at the system as a "hoax" and carry on with their illegal activities. The only way this new system is going to work is if the KDWPT takes a hard stance on these fines and doesn't budge. It's time for Kansas to put its foot down and rid the state of poachers.