LANSING, Mich.–On the eve of the opening of Michigan’s firearm deer season, legislation to toughen penalties for illegally killing a protected animal or trophy buck in the state has passed the Legislature and moves to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
“Poaching is bad for Michigan sports enthusiasts and bad for the deer herd,” said state Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes. “We must protect and preserve our wild resources, and these bills will do that.”
Pavlov thanked former Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers John Borkovich and Ron Pinson for their support, and he also credited Jim Pryce, president of Tri-County Sportsmen’s League, for helping shepherd the bills to completion.
Senate Bill 171, sponsored by Pavlov, would increase existing fines for illegally killing a protected animal and impose additional penalties for poaching trophy bucks. SB 172, sponsored by Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, would increase fines and penalties against violators that trespass on private property. The new measures are consistent with policies in neighboring states.
Kent Wood of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs applauded Pavlov’s work on the legislation.
“As men, women, and youth head out to the woods for firearm deer season tomorrow, we are excited that we now have a restitution system for white tail deer that might properly deter poachers from taking trophy bucks,” Wood said. “Each time a poacher takes a large buck, that is one less opportunity for a Michigan hunter to have that exciting experience. MUCC and its members have enjoyed working with Senator Pavlov to get this important bill done.”
Under the proposed laws, the restitution for illegally shooting a deer will depend on whether or not the deer has antlers, and the value will get progressively larger based on the number of points.
The progressive penalty system breaks down as follows:
• For any deer with or without antlers, the base restitution fine will be $1,000;
• For any antlered deer, there will be an additional $1,000 fine;
• For antlered deer with 8 to 10 points, an additional $500 will be assessed for each point; and
• For antlered deer with 11 or more points, an additional $750 will be assessed for each point.
A “point” is defined in the bill as being at least one inch long as measured from its tip to the nearest edge of the antler beam.
The bills now head to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.