Poaching is not only a crime of cruelty, it is a widespread but largely invisible problem. Many people have never heard the estimate that for every wild animal killed legally by hunters, another is killed illegally.
Wildlife poaching victims could total in the tens of millions annually.
Given that these offenses generally are committed in remote locations, it isn’t surprising that very few cases get solved, despite the skill and dedication of wildlife law enforcement.
You can be part of the solution by becoming aware of these crimes against wildlife and learning how to put officials on the trail of poachers.
To that end, we selected ten poaching cases out of the 56 we publicized—along with offered rewards—in 2010. The countdown provides a glimpse of the range of poaching crimes as well as the tactics some law enforcement agencies use to catch poachers.
Investigators with the Missouri Department of Conservation set up a taxidermy shop as part of an investigation into illegal hunting. In July they announced that 62% of the people who came into the shop with killed animals were in violation of the law.
Louisiana black bears are a threatened species and it is illegal to shoot one. That didn’t stop a poacher who shot and wounded a female Louisiana black bear so badly that she had to be euthanized. Agents with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division are still looking for the perpetrator(s), and The HSUS has an outstanding $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case.
Florida is one of the states becoming more sophisticated in their efforts to combat poaching. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Internet Crimes Unit monitors websites, online bulletin boards, and social media forums to detect criminal activity. They target those who illegally sell wildlife online or who reveal their real-world wildlife crimes via the internet. In 2010 alone, this amazing team made 177 arrests.
A “thrill killer” illegally shot and killed four elk near Montesanto. Strong penalties for this particularly egregious category of poaching is a top priority for The HSUS and we are working on legislation to upgrade thrill-killing penalties.
In February, a female black bear was killed while hibernating in her den with her newborn cubs. It is believed that the poacher or poachers may have also taken the bear cubs. Officers with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources are still looking for tips on this case. The HSUS has an outstanding $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
A young female sea otter was found dead along the beach in Morro Bay. A necropsy revealed that she had been shot in the head with a pellet gun. Wardens with The California Department of Fish and Game are still looking for the poacher or poachers responsible, and The HSUS has an outstanding $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
In October a red wolf, one of the most endangered wolves, was discovered dead at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. U.S. Fish and Wildlife is still looking for the suspected poacher or poachers responsible for this case and two other illegal red wolf kills that took place in May 2010. The HSUS has an outstanding $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in all three killings.
Someone who signs his messages “Poacher X” sent images of his illegal kills, including an antelope and a deer, to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game along with a letter claiming that he poached those animals in Northern Idaho and that he “plans to do all his hunting like this from now on.” The HSUS has an outstanding $2,500 reward for information leading to Poacher X’s arrest and conviction.
The HSUS has an outstanding $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in a cruel poaching case that took place near Salina, Utah. The eagle was severely injured and, despite treatment at the Southwest Wildlife Foundation in Cedar City, Utah, died of his injuries.
All wildlife law enforcement officers make sacrifices in their heroic efforts to protect wildlife. They work long hours and are usually paid less than other law enforcement, not to mention the risks of working in remote areas and approaching suspects who far more often than not are carrying a weapon. Those risks became a reality in the case of the tragic killing of David Grove, a wildlife conservation officer in Pennsylvania who, news reports say, was fatally shot while he was arresting a man for suspected illegal night hunting.
Citizen action against poaching
- Know your state’s wildlife protection laws and regulations and report violations to the state wildlife agency. Learn more.
- Tell your lawmakers that you strongly support stronger penalties for poaching and adequate funding for wildlife law enforcement.
- HSUS offers rewards for convictions in many poaching cases. If you have information on any of these cases, please follow the link to the story for information on how to contact wildlife law enforcement.
- If you have knowledge of other illegal activity involving wildlife, report it to your state wildlife agency’s law enforcement division.
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