Calling poaching offensive to the "sensibilities of all ethical and law-abiding hunters and anglers," Governor Dayton on Friday proposed much tougher punishments for people who hunt animals illegally in Minnesota.
During a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) annual "Roundtable" meeting, the governor called on the legislature to enact laws which would elevate poaching crimes – currently a misdemeanor in Minnesota – to felonies, according to a news release received by BringMeTheNews.
The proposal would also see game and fish license revocations extended to up to 10 years instead of the current five-year period.
If approved, the new laws would apply to "gross over-limit violations," which DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr commented are "not accidental." They would apply to hunters who illegally take animals over a restitution value of $2,000.
For a better understanding of how that would be measured in animals, the governor's office says the "over-limit penalty" thresholds include the killing of four or more deer; two or more trophy deer; five or more bears or turkeys; forty or more ducks, geese and other fowl; and 67 or more walleye or northern pike.
According to the Star Tribune, a similar proposal from Dayton last year was ultimately rejected by the state legislature.
Nonetheless, the governor, himself a lifelong hunter and fisherman, is asking for Minnesota's "sportsmen and sportswomen to join (him) in urging the legislature to increase the penalties for these disgusting abuses.”
Poaching cases disgust Dayton
Dayton also expressed his disgust with poaching at the meeting, referring to recent instances as "shameful criminal acts" and saying “I’m offended when I see these stories about a guy who slaughtered a lot of deer and got away with it,’’ the Star Tribune notes.
This renewed push follows a November poaching case in which three northwestern Minnesota men were charged with having thousands of pounds of snapping turtle meat outside of the animal's season. He promised then that he would redouble his efforts to increase punishments for poachers.
Another high-profile incident the governor's office mentioned in their release involved the seizure of numerous guns and deer antlers after a five-year poaching probe.
Authorities said that agents seized 28 sets of antlers, four sets of elk antlers, a set of mule deer antlers, and a fully intact, untagged piebald deer in a freezer, all taken illegally. Four men were charged in the case.