The Denver Post is reporting on a man from Colorado who was recently convicted of poaching fifteen animals. A 28-year-old man, Iniki Vike Kapu pled guilty to charges related to his illegal harvest of twelve deer, two turkeys, and one bighorn sheep ram. As a result of his plea deal, he was given 6 months in jail, three years probation, a $4600 fine, and a lifetime hunting ban in the state of Colorado. Colorado is a member of the interstate wildlife violator compact which means that he will also have a lifetime hunting ban in every state in the United States except for Hawaii and Massachusetts (the only two states not part of the compact). The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact was drafted in the 1980s and has since been joined by 48 states as a tool to ensure that poachers cannot escape punishment by traveling to other states to hunt.
Poaching is a serious problem in the United States that seeks to undermine the concerted efforts of legal hunters and state game agencies to carefully manage wild populations of animals. The vast majority of hunters are law-abiding and evidence suggests that a small number of people commit the majority of all poaching crimes each year. These serial poachers find that they get away with the first few crimes and then begin to get a sort of high from future poaching. All too often, when poachers are apprehended they receive lenient jail sentences and are able to regain their hunting privileges in several years. This case from Colorado featured a man on a poaching spree who killed 13 big game animals in a short period of time. The addition of the lifetime ban to his punishment sends a clear message that committing wildlife crimes can have long-term consequences for you. I would also like to see the elevation of certain poaching crimes to felonies. This would give prosecutors and judges the tools to seriously punish the worst poachers who commit multiple crimes.