Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is trying to raise awareness about poaching after a couple of recent incidents.
Last week, FWP asked for help after three buck deer were shot and left to waste along Floweree Road between Fairfield and Simms. The deer – two whitetails and a mule deer – were shot and left sometime during the first week of November.
FWP Region 4 Information Officer Bruce Auchly doesn't mince words about poaching: "It's theft."
He explained, "Wildlife belongs to everybody in the state of Montana. When you poach an animal, when you shoot that animal out of season, you are stealing from the people of Montana."
"Poaching happens, probably, for two reasons: people who deliberately go and break the law, and people who make a mistake. I like to say everybody makes mistakes, it's what you do afterward that determines your character,” said Auchly.
Poaching is not just frustrating for wildlife officials, though. "It's just robbing from other hunters,” said Joe Perry, founder of Montana Sportsmen Alliance.
Perry said poaching is equally frustrating to hunters: "Every time there's an article that crosses my desk on poaching, I post it on our Facebook site and give it as much ink as I can so that if anybody that we are reaching knows anything hopefully it gets passed on."
He believes poachers should face hefty fines and have their hunting privileges taken away in as many states as possible for as long as possible: "Poachers aren't hunters. They're cheaters,” said Perry.
Anyone with information about a poaching incident is asked to call FWP at 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668). Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to a conviction.
The FWP website provides the following information about poaching:
Poaching is the illegal killing of fish or wildlife:
- for commercial trade
- for ego gratification
- in closed areas, during closed times, or taking more than the law allows
- reduce recreational opportunities for law abiding anglers, hunters, wildlife watchers, and other outdoor enthusiasts
- kill and waste Montana game animals, threatened and endangered species, and even nongame animals
- target Montana’s fish and wildlife resource for personal profit
- Poaching robs law abiding hunters of game and fish, businesses and taxpayers of revenues generated by hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing recreation, and it denies many other Montanans the ability to enjoy seeing healthy, mature fish and wildlife populations.