In February of this year, a Montana man was sentenced to a lifetime ban on hunting in his state and every other state that is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC). That agreement allows member states to share information about poachers.
If you were denied a hunting or fishing license in one state because you failed to comply with wildlife conservation laws, you can be denied a license in every other member state. Texas is a member of the IWVC, as are 48 other states as of 2021.
What was the Montana man’s violation?
Poaching is the illegal shooting or taking of game from private property or a place where hunting is forbidden. In this case, the poacher illegally killed a trophy-sized moose.
The headless carcass of the trophy-sized moose had been found on a public road, so its full size was known when tipsters later pointed a finger at the poacher. They reported that he had trophy-sized antlers in his possession.
While many states don’t differentiate between the size of animals when deciding on poaching fines and penalties, Texas and 10 other states use the Boone and Crockett scoring system. The higher the number the animal scores, the higher the potential fines and penalties.
The Montana “Poach and Pay” program used the Boone and Crockett scoring system to rate the antlers and horns.
Penalties for Hunting Violations
In Texas, if you are found guilty of poaching – or any other type of hunting violation – you can face fines of $25 to $4,000. Poaching can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony in Texas. It’s a felony if it involves the taking of a big game animal. Then the fines rise from $1,500 to $10,000.
That’s not all. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department can seek civil restitution to recover the value of that lost wildlife resource. The larger the animal, the larger your bill.
At the end of the day, the Montana poacher was banned for life from hunting and trapping, received a 3-year suspension on his fishing privileges, a 5-year suspended prison sentence, and was ordered to pay $12,100 in fines and civil restitution.
In Texas, he might also have to forfeit his hunting gear and the gun he used to poach wildlife. If you have had a run-in with a game warden or conservation officer and need advice about Texas hunting violations, call the Fort Worth criminal defense lawyers at Lee and Wood. We defend hunters and fishermen accused of wildlife violations. Call our law office at 817-678-6771 or contact us online.