Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fines And Prison Sentences Increased For Fish Poaching

Pennsylvania is setting the hook on wildlife poachers. In 2010, the state Game Code was amended to significantly increase poaching penalties, adding for the first time jail sentences for some first-time offenders. Last week, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law House Bill 2293, which increases the maximum fine for illegally harvesting fish from $200 to $5,000 and gives the state Fish and Boat Commission authority to revoke fishing and boating privileges for as long as five years.
The law went into effect immediately. It adds a new section to the Fish and Boat Code for "serious unlawful take," increasing the penalty for harvesting more than the daily limit from a summary offense of the first degree to a misdemeanor of the second degree. It also enables the PFBC to charge violators for the costs of replacing illegally harvested fish, and increases poaching prison sentences from a maximum of 90 days to two years.
In a written statement, executive director John Arway suggested the new penalties may help deter steelhead poaching in Erie County, where every year conservation officers apprehend five or six poachers each in possession of dozens of fish over the legal limit.
"These are the individuals who deliberately come in after dark and take large amounts of game fish, often by using illegal methods such as netting or spearing in the streams," Arway said.
In another action, the governor approved House Bill 1417, which adds waterways conservation officers and their deputies to those who are protected under the aggravated assault provisions of the Pennsylvania Crimes and Offenses code.

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