Legislation on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law would deter poachers by increasing the fine and mandating they lose their hunting and fishing licenses.
“Poachers currently face a measly $50 fine no matter how many times they’ve been caught,” said Ownbey, R-Ardmore. “Several constituents have been incensed by repeat offenders on their property. One poacher in the district shot a horse while illegally hunting deer and the property owner had already sold the horse and lost the sale of the animal, which I guarantee you is a frustrating situation. We need tougher penalties; otherwise we may see property owners begin to take matters into their own hands.”
House Bill 2573 increases the fine for poaching to a $500 minimum fine and $1,500 maximum fine. The legislation makes the penalty for a second offense a fine of $1,500-2,500, six months in county jail or both. The legislation also mandates that a repeat offender could lose their hunting and fishing licenses for up to 10 years.
“The current law does a poor job of protecting property owners. It is costing people money and I think repeat offenders should face stiff penalties that might make them think twice about their behavior,” Ownbey said. “I don’t think Oklahomans want to continue to tolerate repeat poachers.”
Ownbey said after working with the National Rifle’s Association, some protections were written into the law to protect someone accidentally shooting on a property if they were not trespassing. The bill also removes a requirement that property owners post a no hunting or no fishing sign.
House Bill 2573 was approved by a vote of 91-1.