West Virginia DNR struggles to keep up with poachers
The Associated Press
MACARTHUR, W.Va. (AP) — The Division of Natural Resources says it’s having a hard time keeping up with poachers this year, and a dramatic increase in the availability of trophy bucks may be the reason.
Officer T.A. Petrunger of McDowell County says a bumper acorn crop in 2010 allowed deer to survive the winter in good physical condition and encouraged early antler growth.
He tells the Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/sy3uSw) that may have created too much temptation for some hunters. In several parts of the state, DNR officers are reporting a surge in the number of illegal kills.
“This year, with all the bucks out there, guys were anxious to get after them,” Petrunger said. “Some of them ended up being too anxious.”
Officer D.W. Hylton said his eight-county southern district made 311 arrests from Sept. 1 to early December. Seventy percent were for poaching or illegal possession of game.
Under a state law that went into effect last summer, poachers now face tougher penalties for taking trophy bucks.
They can be fined for killing an animal with an antler spread of more than 14 inches, with the amount directly related to the size. The replacement fee for antlers between 14 and 16 inches is $1,000. The fee increases $500 in 2-inch increments after that, up to $2,500 for spreads of 20 inches.
Petrunger says he’s handled the most expensive case so far.
Around Thanksgiving, he was tipped off that a man in Newhall had been skinning a buck in his front yard. As he investigated, he got another tip and discovered the carcasses of two large bucks, tied together and hidden in a creek bed.
Jason D. Baker was charged with hunting without a license, illegal killing of a buck with an 18-inch spread, illegal possession of wildlife, driving with a suspended license and driving without insurance.
He pleaded no contest in McDowell County magistrate court and was fined a total $3,524.
Information from: The Charleston Gazette, http://www.wvgazette.com