JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri legislature and governor have taken actions to increase penalties for those caught poaching Missouri game animals and other native wildlife species.
Missouri Governor Michael Parson signed HB260 into law July 11. Called the Poaching Bill, it significantly raises fines for those convicted of illegally taking Missouri game species and other native wildlife. HB260 was sponsored by Representative Jered Taylor (Republic) and Senator Mike Bernskoetter (Jefferson City).
New fine amounts include $10,000-$15,000 for each elk or black bear killed illegally, $1,000-$5,000 for each whitetailed buck, $500-$1,000 for each wild turkey, and $500-$1,000 for each paddlefish.
The fines are considered restitution payments for poaching game animals and are ordered by a judge. Monies from the fines go to the state’s school moneys fund. The restitution payments are in addition to other fines and penalties for violating the Wildlife Code of Missouri. The new fines will go into effect Aug. 28.
Supporters of the bill said that previous fines for poaching were too low in Missouri. The bill also gained support in part from five Missouri elk that were illegally killed by poachers in the past few years. None of the cases has yet been solved.
Earlier this year, MDC and the Missouri Conservation Commission increased the penalty points they give to individuals convicted of violating the Wildlife Code of Missouri for illegal activities, including poaching.
According to MDC records, 547 wild turkeys, 58 paddlefish, and 4,731 deer were illegally taken, or poached, in 2017 and 2018. MDC is also investigating the poaching of five elk over the past several years. Black bear poaching incidents are a growing concern as well.
“In addition to doing what we can by increasing