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California may crack down on poachers

July 7, 2009 |  5:48 pm


California may be cracking down on poaching.

The state Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved AB 708, a bill that would set a mandatory minimum fine for some poaching violations, including hunting protected birds or hunting over the limit or out of season. The mandatory minimum fine for a first offense would be $5,000 for anyone illegally taking or trading amphibians, birds, fish, mammals or reptiles. The bill has already passed in the Assembly.

"Poaching is completely out of control in California," said Dan Taylor, director of public policy at Audubon California. Poaching violations rose to 17,840 in California in 2007, up from 6,538 in 2003. Fishing violations also rose from 8,001 in 2003 to 15,892 in 2007. Taylor said the current penalties are not strict enough to discourage people from poaching.

Cases of "extreme" poaching spiked in 2008, according to the California Department of Fish and Game. That year, a man in Gilroy was found with 335 dead birds, a Tuolumne County man was found with the scattered remains of an estimated 26 deer in his home, and two men in Monterey County were arrested for poaching 66 abalone.  

The bill weathered some adjustments in committee.  But Taylor said he remains "satisfied" and hopes it will pass the full Senate this summer. 

-- Amy Littlefield

Photo: Mallards are among the birds that have been affected by poaching in California. Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service