The Pennsylvania House and Senate have passed legislation which would increase the sanctions for hunting out of season or killing off-limits animals. Governor Ed Rendell is expected to sign the bill soon.
PA Game Commission spokesman Jerry Feaser says this would be the first boost in poaching fines since 1987. Feaser says the Game Commission has wanted the increase for years.
The fine for shooting a deer out of season would increase from $200-300 to at least $1000. Shooting multiple deer or other big game would be a misdemeanor or a felony, rather than a summary offense. Also, poachers could be jailed for up to a year.
Feaser says an “enormous” black market trade of animal parts may cause some of the poaching in Pennsylvania.
“In most cases, you’re talking about antlers from either elk or deer. You’re talking about bear paws or bear gallbladders. You could be talking about feathers or parts of bald eagles, or other endangered or threatened species,” says Feaser.
Feaser says the measure would put Pennsylvania’s poaching laws on par with those of other states.