Strengthen Penalties for Poaching in Oregon: Senate Bill 924
Three weeks ago Audubon took in a peregrine falcon that was illegally shot near Newburg---it died in a box while it was being transferred to our Care Center for treatment. Each year we see a steady stream of hawks, owls falcons and eagles that are intentionally and illegally injured and killed. These crimes are outrageous--but in Oregon they often result in little or no punishment!
We need your help to send a strong message to poachers that Oregon will not tolerate intentional, illegal killing of our wildlife. For the last year Audubon has worked with conservation organizations, hunters and anglers to develop a bill which helps address poaching in Oregon.
Senate Bill 924 takes a critical step forward in the fight against wildlife poaching in Oregon. Despite laws that have been on the books for decades, poaching remains a significant problem in Oregon. Wildlife rehabilitation centers continue to see a steady stream of hawk, falcons, eagles and osprey that have been illegally shot. A recent study by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife revealed that poaching may be responsible for as much as 50% of the deer taken in Eastern Oregon directly contributing to deer population numbers that are now significantly below state target levels It is notoriously difficult to catch individuals in the act of poaching. However, even when poachers are identified and successfully prosecuted, conservation, hunting, fishing and trapping groups alike agree, the courts have been reticent to impose significant penalties.
SB 924 would add a couple of important provisions to existing law. Specifically it would:
Requires imposition of a fine of not less than 50% of the maxim fine allowed under law (currently this would be $3125) when a person is convicted of intentionally taking:
- A bird of prey
- A sturgeon over six feet in length
- A mountain goat or mountain sheep
- Buck deer or bull elk with antlers with at least (undetermined) points
- Illegal sale of protected wildlife
- Requires the maximum penalty allowed under law (currently $6250) for situations in which a person is convicted of intentionally taking three or more times the daily bag limit for any hunted or fished species
How you can help:
1. Please write before next Thursday to the list of senators below (cut and paste them into an email) and tell them that you want their support on SB 924 (if you can cc your own local senator and representative that would be great as well). The email does not have to be long but let them know that you care about wildlife and want the state to take wildlife crimes seriously. YOUR VOICE REALLY COUNTS--A FEW LETTER CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE!
2. If anybody would like to come to Salem to testify in person please email back to me and we can discuss specific testimony. It would be great to have a strong showing at this hearing. on this list can come to Salem next Thursday to testify in person before the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, that would be a huge help. The hearing is scheduled on April 7 at 3:00 at the Capital. If you have not done it before it is actually a very cool experience.
· Please tell the committee that you support passage of SB 924 to strengthen penalties for poaching in Oregon---it is important that the state send a strong message to poachers that their crimes will be taken seriously!
· It is great to support all aspects of this bill but we are asking Audubon supporters to focus specifically on birds of prey. The hunting and fishing communities will have game species well covered;
· Birds of prey are amazing creatures---many species of birds of prey have spent decades recovering from serious population declines. There is no excuse for illegal killing of these magnificent birds.
· These enhanced penalties are necessary to curtail an epidemic of poaching in Oregon. The State and its residents have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to restore wildlife populations and wildlife habitat across Oregon. Each years thousands of people donate their time and skills to support habitat restoration projects, monitor wildlife populations, participate in wildlife rehabilitation programs and engage in myriad other wildlife related projects. Poaching wildlife is a crime against our communities;
· Wildlife watching, hunting, trapping and fishing activities contribute more than a billion dollars to local economies each year and wildlife related equipment purchases in Oregon generate another $1.5 billion in economic activity. SB 924 is the right thing to do to protect our natural heritage, our community investments and our local economies.
Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee
It would be great to also cc your own state senator and representative. To do find your own legislators, go to the following web link and enter in the required information: http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/